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King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury didn't let a pandemic stop their members from experiencing the benefits of a mission trip. Last fall, they offered a virtual mission trip with their mission partner in Honduras, a church ministry called Linaje Escogido. The event included videos of its outreach programs, including a feeding center, clinic and library. More recently, King of Kings held a second virtual mission trip, with this one featuring a visit to a different mission partner each evening over the course of one week. This trip featured visits to Tanzania, Honduras and three local partners in the Woodbury area.
Over the last year, as it became clear that we would not be able to go on mission trips for the foreseeable future, we started to think about ways we could continue to make meaningful connections with our mission partners during the global pandemic. Through discussions with our mission partners, we decided to try a virtual mission trip.
We started by identifying the important elements of a mission trip. For us those elements are visiting projects, learning about and connecting with our partner and worshiping together. From there, we arranged a five-part Zoom experience, which included a pre-trip info session, a three-day virtual mission trip, and one post-trip reflection meeting. Each Zoom session was one hour.
On the first day of our virtual trip, we met our partner, discussed their ministries, and reflected on how we can continue walking together in partnership. On Day 2, we watched videos from our partner showing their ministry projects and discussed how they are impacting their community, and how we can support them in their work. The last day of our trip was for worship. Together we worshiped as one community, with both sides contributing to one service. The pre- and post-trip sessions were a time for the group from King of Kings to reflect and discuss what it means to be in mission relationship.
The virtual mission trip turned out better than I anticipated! We saw the work and ministry of our partner, we prayed together and worshiped as one congregation, and we made connections with our sisters and brothers around the world.
At the end of the virtual trip, one participant reflected, “I have never taken an actual mission trip, so I was very pleased my husband and I joined the virtual trip. We learned very much about [our partner’s] efforts to help others and to share God’s word. I would highly recommend others join such mission trips in the future.”
Another participant said, “I didn’t want our sessions to end. The opportunity to interact with our mission partners opened my eyes to our shared love of Christ and how valuable King of King’s mission work is to our Christian commitment.”
For the King of Kings community, as well as our mission partners, virtual mission trips have been a worthwhile & fulfilling experience. While it’s different than an in-person mission trip, we found meaningful connection, we learned about one another, and we deepened our faith through this virtual experience. We are all looking forward to the days when we can travel to be physically present with one another again, but we also plan to continue virtual mission trips, too. Virtual mission trips open the ministry of missions to people of all ages, who might not be able to travel internationally for a variety of reasons. We have learned that there are many ways to be present with our partners, all of which are meaningful and full of faith.
-Elizabeth Hendrickson, Director of Missions
King of Kings Lutheran Church, Woodbury