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Mission Trips

The Best Mission Trips For College Students: Updated Complete List

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Written by Paige Deane

Balancing life as a college student can be hard, however, if you are interested in going on a missions trip as a college student, don’t give up quite yet. I have researched the best mission trips for college students to go on.

Where can college students go on mission trips? College students can go on mission trips through many different orginizations. A few places include:

  • World Race
  • Experience Mission
  • YWAM
  • Ethnos 360
  • Royal Servants
  • Mission Discover

There are lots of opportunities to do missions, even as college students, in a variety of lengths, places, and ministries. So if you feel that God is calling you to go on a missions trip or even investigate long-term missions as a possible career choice, here are some great trips to get involved.

Gap Year Mission Trip

For those of you who are still wondering what to do after high school, or have a desire to serve before heading off to college, a gap year program may be exactly what you are looking for.

By participating in a gap year program you get to take some time to serve before committing to a college or whatever steps God has next in store for you.

World Race

One possibility if you are looking to do missions while taking a gap year is to participate in the World Race Gap Year program. There are several routes available depending on what type of ministry you are hoping to engage in and what you are hoping to learn.

Click here to visit their website.

Outreach Route

On this route, you will be involved in a variety of outreach ministries including sports ministry, community outreach, children’s ministry, manual labor, evangelism, and Bible distribution.

  • Countries: Costa Rica, Romania, Cambodia
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Age Range: 17-20 (must also be a high school graduate)
  • Fundraising Requirement: $15,800
  • Application Deadline: May 5, 2021
  • Boot Camp: June 16-20, 2021
  • Training Camp & Launch: September 1 – October 15, 2021
  • Trip Dates: September 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022
  • All dates are subject to change
  • Click here to learn more.

This is a great opportunity for you to learn how to do local community outreach in all its forms and serve the community well.

Activation Route

On this route, you will be serving local partners to activate and establish churches in local communities. Ministry opportunities will also include community outreach & development, children’s ministry, sports ministry, and leadership.

  • Countries: Guatemala, Cambodia, Eswatini
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Age Range: 18-20
  • Fundraising Requirement: $15,800
  • Application Deadline: May 5, 2021
  • Boot Camp: June 16-20, 2021
  • Training Camp & Launch: September 1 – October 15, 2021
  • Trip Dates: September 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022
  • All dates and countries are subject to change
  • Click here to learn more.

If you are interested in helping activate churches overseas, this would be a great way to serve the global body of Christ.

Development Route

On this route, you will be serving with local partners to develop sustainable ministries in local communities. Ministry opportunities will also include community development, children’s ministry, leadership, teaching English, community outreach, sports ministry, and manual labor.

  • Countries: Eswatini, Thailand, Costa Rica
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Age Range: 18-20
  • Fundraising Requirement: $15,800
  • Application Deadline: May 5, 2021
  • Boot Camp: June 16-20, 2021
  • Training Camp & Launch: September 1 – October 15, 2021
  • Trip Dates: September 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022
  • All dates are subject to change
  • Click here to learn more.

If you are looking to help develop and grow existing ministries and helping them become sustainable in serving the kingdom of God for years to come, this is a great way to get involved.

Leadership Route

On this route you will be developing leadership skills as you serve in various local communities. Ministry opportunities will also include community development, leadership, children’s ministry, and evangelism.

  • Countries: Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Cambodia
  • Duration: 6 months
  • Age Range: 17-20 (must also be a high school graduate)
  • Fundraising Requirement: $10,500
  • Application Deadline: November 20, 2021
  • Training Camp & Launch: January 4 – January 8, 2021
  • Trip Dates: January 4, 2021 – June 24, 2022
  • All dates are subject to change
  • Click here to learn more.

If you are sensing God’s call to leadership, this may be the trip for you to learn more and develop the gift for leadership that God has put inside you.

Experience Mission

Experience mission’s immersion gap year program may be another option if you are considering a gap year program.

Through this program, you will engage with other cultures and grow in your faith in the Lord through experiences that may stretch you outside your comfort zone.

Gap Year Costa Rica/Africa

Each trip combines two distinct Immersion trips into one long cross-cultural experience. This trip combines a three month trip to Costa Rica with a 6 month trip to Africa.

  • Countries: Costa Rica, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Age Range: 18-23
  • Fundraising Requirement: $15,000
  • Part 1 – Costa Rica: August 23, 2021 – November 11, 2021
  • Part 2 – Break: November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022
  • Part 3 – Africa: January 10, 2022 – June 30, 2022
  • Click here to learn more.

Each community brings its own unique culture and struggles and you have the opportunity to interact with them on a daily basis and learn from their experiences.

Gap Year Holy Land/Africa

This trip combines a three month trip to the Holy Land, Israel, and the West Bank, with a 6 month trip to Africa.

  • Countries: Israel and the West Bank, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Age Range: 21-25
  • Fundraising Requirement: $15,900
  • Part 1 – Holy Land: August 23, 2021 – November 11, 2021
  • Part 2 – Break: November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022
  • Part 3 – Africa: January 10, 2022 – June 30, 2022
  • Click here to learn more.

This trip provides the unique opportunity to engage with two communities separated by race and religion and bring love to these divided communities.

Gap Year South Africa/Caribbean

This trip combines a three month trip to South Africa with a 6 month trip to the Caribbean.

  • Countries: South Africa, Haiti, Costa Rica, Belize
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Age Range: 18-23
  • Fundraising Requirement: $15,200
  • Part 1 – South Africa: August 23, 2021 – November 11, 2021
  • Part 2 – Break: November 12, 2021 – January 9, 2022
  • Part 3 – Caribbean: January 10, 2022 – June 30, 2022
  • Click here to learn more.

This trip provides an even wider variety of cultural diversity to explore with multiple communities in South Africa and various communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Semester Abroad

College is a busy time, however, if God is calling you to go on a missions trip, giving up a semester to serve will be totally worth it.

You will be exposed to the expansion of the kingdom of God in a new way and grow cross-cultural relationships around the world.

World Race

If you are looking to commit to a semester of service and growth in the Kingdom of God, the World Race Semester program may be just where God is calling you to be. There are trips anywhere from one to three months and each one holds life-changing opportunities.

Click here to learn more.

One Month

There are a variety of locations available for the one-month trips including Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Nepal, Panama, Ethiopia, and two in the United States, Wisconsin Dells, WI, and North Carolina.

Each one provides different ministry opportunities in a new and amazing culture.

The fundraising requirement for an in-country location is $1,650, and the out of country requirement is anywhere from 3,550-4,550 depending on the location.

These trips are available to students 18 to 22 years old, and some potential ministry focuses and opportunities include:

  • Homeless Ministry
  • Community Outreach
  • Drug Rehabilitation Ministry
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Elder Care
  • Evangelism
  • Local Church Ministry
  • Community Development
  • Feeding Program
  • Youth Ministry
  • Relational Evangelism
  • Community Service Projects
  • Missional Living
  • Unreached People Groups
  • Manual Labor
  • Special Needs Ministry
  • Agriculture
  • Teaching English.

There are two different time frames for these trips. For the trips to Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, the Philippines, and Wisconsin Dells, WI the application is due March 29, 2021 and the trip lasts from May 28, 2021 – June 29, 2021, with training for the first five days being training days.

However, for the trips to North Carolina, Nepal, Panama, and Ethiopia, the application is due April 29, 2021 and the trip lasts from June 28, 2021 – July 31, 2021 with the first five days being training days.

Two Months

There are five different trips available if you are looking for a two-month mission experience.

Locations include Romania and Serbia, Eswatini and South Africa, Costa Rica and Guatemala, Thailand and Cambodia, and the United States.

  • Age Range: 18-22
  • Fundraising Requirement: Between $4,500-$5,450 for out of country trips and $3,000 for in country trips.
  • Application Deadline: March 29, 2021
  • Training Camp: May 28, 2021 – June 1, 2021
  • Trip Dates: May 28, 2021 – July 31, 2021
  • Ministry Focus/Opportunities: Church Planting, Discipleship, Student Ministry, Children’s Ministry, Sports Ministry, Community Development and Outreach, Teaching English, Homeless Ministry, Feeding Program, and Evangelism.

Each of these trips offers insight into a different part of the world and will help you to grow and mature in your faith and in your ability to initiate cross-cultural relationships.

Three Months

There are two trips available for anyone looking to do three months of missions, one in South America and one in Central America.

Each trip runs from January 26, 2021 – April 22, 2021, with a training camp from January 22-25, 2021, and the application due November 20, 2020.

They are available for students ages 18-22 and focus on various ministries including:

  • Homeless Ministry
  • Drug Rehabilitation Ministry
  • Kids Ministry
  • Youth Ministry
  • Feeding Program
  • Teaching English
  • Special Needs Ministry
  • Manual Labor
  • Discipleship
  • Agriculture
  • Local Church Outreach

The South America trip costs $6,400 and includes ministry in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The Central America Trip costs $4,900 and includes ministry in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Each is full of opportunities to grow.

Students International

Students International offers a unique program that allows you to do a fully accredited semester study abroad program combined with missions.

There are three different tracks that you can pursue through this program including a fall, language intensive semester in Costa Rica, a trip to Costa Rica in the spring, and a trip to Guatemala in the spring or fall.

The fall, language intensive trip to Costa Rica is intended for those majoring or minoring in Spanish who are already proficient in Spanish. All 18 credits of coursework is in Spanish, they will stay with a host family speaking entirely Spanish, and all of their ministry will be in Spanish.

Students going on the spring trip to Costa Rica will have a similar experience to the fall students without the language emphasis and earn 16 college credits.

Both semesters will offer ministry opportunities such as a creative arts worship, boys and girls club, sports with an emphasis on women’s health and fitness, community and environmental health, the tutoring center, women’s social work and Microfinance, and other sports and recreation ministries.

You may also be interested in the Guatemala trip in the spring where you will be able to do ministry while earning 15-16 college credits. Ministry opportunities here include agriculture with an emphasis on animal husbandry, appropriate technology, creative arts, education with tutoring, micro finances, women’s social work, sponsorship social work, and special education.

Dates for the 2021-2022 school year are not yet available but keep watch if you think that this may be a ministry opportunity you want to take advantage of.

Click here to learn more.

Summer Mission Trips

You may not be able to do missions during the school year, however, you may be able to get involved in a longer trip over the summer.

Students International, Mexico Caravan Ministries, Royal Servants, and several others all offer opportunities to serve local communities in ministry over the summer months.

Students International

Students International offers a summer staffing program that allows you to come assist permanent staff in managing the short term teams that come through the program. This could include translating, leading Bible studies, airport runs, leading worship and various other duties.

Qualifications for being on the summer staff team include a personal relationship with Jesus, a consistent walk with the Lord for the past two years, minimum twenty years of age or a year of college, and commitment for the entire length of the program.

It is preferred that you are also conversationally fluent in Spanish, have experience in whatever area of ministry you intend to be involved in, and previous participation in a Students International program.

Costs are $200 per week along with travel insurance and airfare. The weekly payment includes room and board, in country transportation, and one excursion with other staff. Dates for the various locations are as follows:

  • Costa Rica: May 20, 2021 to August 11, 2021
  • Dominican Republic (Jarabacoa): May 15, 2021 to August 11, 2021
  • Dominican Republic (Santiago): May 13, 2021 to August 4, 2021
  • Guatemala: May 25, 2021 to August 11, 2021
  • Nicaragua: May 9, 2021 to August 9, 2021

This is a great opportunity to get involved in the Great Commission around the world while also learning valuable leadership and cross-cultural skills.

The schedule for each trip includes two days for travel, one day of orientation and training, on excursion day, and the rest are days of ministry.

Click here to learn more.

Royal Servants

Royal Servants has two summer missions trip opportunities for college students, summer staff, and summer staff leadership.

Summer staff help with various jobs that keep the ministry going and prepare for smaller teams to come and volunteer. Summer staff leadership have more specific roles, either supervising financial needs, medical needs, or preparing and planning meals.

There are a few additional qualifications for being in summer staff leadership. You must be 21-35 years old, and prior ministry experience is preferred, though not necessary. You must attend Staff training and stay onsite until the programs completion, and you have to participate in an interview process.

This year, trips include:

  • Brazil: June 9, 2021 – July 24, 2021 for $4,330
  • China: June 9, 2021 – July 31, 2021 for $4,595
  • Costa Rica: June 9, 2021 – July 24, 2021 for $3,490
  • Europe: June 9, 2021 – July 31, 2021 for $4,685
  • Ireland and Scotland: June 9, 2021 – July 24, 2021 for $4,045
  • Kenya: June 9, 2021 – July 24, 2021 for $4,520
  • Morocco: June 9, 2021 – July 31, 2021 for $4,615
  • Nepal: June 9, 2021 – July 31, 2021 for $4,565
  • Philippines: June 9, 2021 – July 24, 2021 for $4,040

Each one of these trips is an opportunity to grow and develop the gifts that God has given you and learn how they play a part in the expansion of his kingdom.

Click here to learn more.

Experience Mission

Another opportunity for summer missions work is through a summer internship with experience mission. Through this program you will have the opportunity to serve, lead, learn, and create space for others to have a good missions experience as well.

For this trip you must be between ages 18-30, be at least a year out of school, and have some other previous job experience.

Applications run from October 15, 2020 – November 30, 2020, there is a training event in mid-May, and the trip runs from mid-May to mid -August.

There are a variety of ministry opportunities available that will help you to develop the gifts God has given you and serve other communities as well.

Click here to learn more.

Mission Discovery

Mission Discovery also offers summer internships on the mission field. By becoming a summer intern, you will have the opportunity to assist project coordinators, engage with staff and participants, help with on-site ministry, and help run morning devotionals and evening meetings.

To participate you will need to be able to give 4-8 weeks of your summer, and be at least 19 years old. If this is where God is leading you, take the plunge and get involved.

Walk in obedience and allow Him to work in and through you on the missions field.

Click here to learn more.

Short Mission Trips

Perhaps you have never been on a missions trip before and are still unsure about the time commitment, but you still feel God’s calling to go. Pray about the opportunity of going on a short term trip, all the while being prepared to give God your full yes.

Students International

Students International offers two different models of short term trips every year, a thirteen day model, and a nine day model. Various countries including Costa Ria, Dominican Republic (Jarabacoa), Dominican Republic (Santiago), Guatemala, and Nicaragua are each sites for upcoming trips in 2021.

Thirteen day trips cost $1,395 plus airfare and other travel expenses and nine day trips are $995 plus airfare and other travel expenses.

Each day of ministry will be a time to pour love into the communities you are serving in and to work with local partners to reach those communities with the light of Christ.

Click here to learn more.

YWAM

YWAM, or Youth With A Mission, has a ton of flexibility when it comes to short term trips, and allow you to , more or less, personalize your missions experience to whatever you feel God is calling you to do.

To arrange a missions experience, all you have to do is visit the website, search the country or type of ministry you want to serve in, and you will be able to get in touch with the leadership that runs the correct site that offers what you are looking for. The possibilities are endless.

Click here to learn more.

World Orphans

World Orphans has several journey trips that allow you to serve with orphan communities around the world in countries like Ethiopia and Guatemala.

Before the trip you will have a series of conference calls to help prepare for your time there and get to know your team. You will learn about orphan ministry, and engage in weekly assignments that will help you prepare for the trip ahead.

While you are there you will be able to help provide care for the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs of the orphans in that community by sharing the love of Jesus and being a light in a dark place.

When you return, World orphans will help you to advocate for those you met on site. They will help you stay connected and give you the tools you need to continue to defend the children in the orphan care system around the world.

Due to COVID-19 there is a lot of uncertainty regarding when trips will be able to resume in their normal fashion, however, if you are interested in serving, your are encouraged to fill out an application so that they can keep in touch with you and get you connected as soon as countries are open enough for ministry.

Click here to learn more.

Ethnos 360

One final place you may be able to explore for a short term trip is Papua New Guinea through Ethnos 360. This trip is intended to be a six week, college level missions course that will teach you about church planting among unreached people groups.

This trip runs from June 5, 2021 – July 14, 2021 for approximately $4,995. This includes round trip flights from Los Angeles International Airport to Papua New Guinea.

Click here to learn more.

Other Possible Mission Trip Ministries

This list is just the beginning of all the opportunities available for you if you are looking to go on a missions trip. Some other organizations you may want to check out include Bring Me Hope, Mexico Caravan Ministries

Mission Discovery can also help you to get connected with missionaries around the world and set up ways to come and meet the needs of the communities they are serving in.

At the end of the day, this is an important decision so please be in prayer. Don’t treat these opportunities casually, instead commit to being prepared both physically and spiritually. And whatever God asks of you, whether it be a short trip, a long trip, or no trip at all, be willing to give him your full yes, whatever that looks like.

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