Mission Trips

The Best Volunteer Mission Trips: Updated Complete List


Written by Karina Zolotarev

There are so many mission trips out there and it can be difficult to narrow it down to just a few.

The two best places I found to go on missions trip with are Experience Missions & Extreme Response International.

Here are two organizations that I have found that have multiple programs and ministries to get involved with.

Experience Missions

Though Experience Missions, there is a list of trips you can go on in 2021 in the United States and overseas. Each location site is a little different with unique serving opportunities.

I chose Experience Missions because they not only have trips overseas but have trips in the U.S. as well. Not only is there a better chance of the trip not being canceled with the pandemic going on, to travel in the U.S. versus going overseas.

I think we often forget how much of a need there is in our own country (not to mention more affordable as well).

With Experience Missions, you can join an existing team, or go with your family, friends, or church.

If you have never gone on a mission trip before, I would suggest starting with staying nearby in the States.

Urban Trips

For example in Atlanta, Georgia you and your team will be serving in some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods surrounded by homelessness, human trafficking, and broken families, but also inspired by local people and organizations who are making a difference.

You would be:

  • Leading children’s programs for immigrant families, serve meals to those experiencing homelessness, and help clean up low-income apartment complexes.
  • Sr. High & Up
  • Trip Season: Summer
  • Cost: $365 per person (6-day trip)

Portland, Maine is one of the country’s most important port cities and boasts above-average income and employment levels. But for the past several years, an unlikely section of the population has grown rapidly – thousands of refugees from African countries like Somalia and Sudan have been placed in Portland to start a new life in the U.S.

During your Maine mission trip, you serve alongside incredible local organizations including The Root Cellar, Preble Street, and the Portland Housing Authority.

Your team’s willingness to serve gives year-round volunteers a chance to rest, grow their programs, and be encouraged in their ongoing work.

You’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Help neighbors feel at home through practical ministries like Kids Club, serving meals, and cleaning up the neighborhood.
  • Jr. High & Up
  • Cost: $385 per person( 6-day trip)

Experience Missions has a total of 10 communities to join in the United States as well as communities in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East.

Hurrican Relief

In September 2019, Hurricane Dorian – the strongest storm in history to ever strike the Bahamas – stalled over 96-mile-long Grand Bahama Island, just off the coast of Florida whipping tornado winds non-stop over the residents who call this island home for roughly 9 hours straight.

East End, Grand Bahama, was absolutely destroyed. At certain points during the storm, the water completely washed over the region and took homes, people, electricity lines, personal belongings out with the undercurrent.

Nearly half the homes in each East End town have been declared condemned and need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

In this area, one road goes the entire width of the island, connecting each small town. Alongside each little town, there is also a church – each of different denominations, pastors, histories, and members. In an incredible show of church unity, all of the pastors of East End are working together to rebuild and bring hope to their communities post-storm.

  • Age group: Sr. High & Up
  • Cost: $1395 per person (12 day trip)

EMS Mission Trips to Africa

EM Africa directly partners with Shiloh Synergy, a collection of projects committed to the holistic uplifting of underprivileged communities in the Western Cape.

These include:

  • providing meals, offering relief, and working in schools in the community. In the schools, teams will get the chance to serve meals, work with school programs, in classrooms and with after-school care.
  • Cost: $1396/person (12 day trip)

They have 12-day trips in Cape-town, South Africa, or for those looking for longer, they also have 1-3 month trips.

Extreme Response International

Extreme Response is a registered non-profit organization in the United States, Canada, Ecuador, the Philippines, and South Africa. Because they are an international organization, they are able to connect with the people already there even more.

Their programs and projects provide ways to help people get back on their feet by focusing on these three pillars:

  • Education Reinforcement
  • Life Skills & Livelihood Training
  • Leadership Development

Christmas Outreach Teams

Every year since 1998, besides 2020, they have had Christmas Outreach Teams serve with Extreme Response staff members, partners, and local volunteers providing gifts, food, games, crafts, face painting, and lots of hugs.

They accept volunteers who are sponsored by their company, school, or church, as well as those coming as individuals, all of whom form a single team serving under ER leadership.

Christmas Outreach Teams are made up of people from various countries, cultures, races, and religious affiliations. They plan on sending teams again in 2021.

For the South Africa team, the team members are to be a minimum of 16 years old and in good health. Their Quito Team may accept family groups with children, depending on space and the ages of the children.

Start planning ahead and learn more about the impact of their Christmas teams here.

Manila Children’s Home

Location: Manila, Philippines

The Manila Children’s Home opened on January 13, 2014 with a mission of caring for at-risk children, particularly 6- to 18-year-old boys who have been neglected or abandoned to live on the streets.

See this story with recent updates on the Manila Children’s Home. You can also watch this short slide show highlighting the vision that led to the launch of the Manila Children’s Home, as well as some new opportunities in the years ahead.

To learn more about short-term volunteering with ER in Manila, email them at mobilization@extremeresponse.org.

Golden Hands Livelihood

Extreme Response Asia’s Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program took the initiative to train, educate, and organize the women, most of whom come from the informal settlements.

The aim of the program is to invest in the lives of women living in extreme and often life-threatening situations.

Learn more about Golden Hands here and how you can help.

Quito Dump Program

Location: Quito, Ecuador

Extreme Response grew out of a small children’s club in the garbage dump in Quito, Ecuador.

In June 1997, ER’s founders began working with the 300-plus people who lived and worked among the trash.

These people gleaned their living by digging through the garbage that flowed out of the back of garbage trucks.

They lived in small shacks made from pallets and other building materials they found in the trash. They survived on what they found to use, eat, and sell.

The very first Christmas Party in the Quito Dump was held in December 1997 with more than 300 people in attendance. It has since grown to more than 2,400 each year.

The dump was permanently closed as a dumping site in 2005 because the landfill was full.

The site is now a transfer station where garbage is trucked in, dumped in a roofed area, sorted through, and then reloaded into trucks to be taken to a location outside the city.

Though the dump has changed drastically over the years, the people and their needs have not, and ER continues its work at the site.

Today ER serves 35+ children in our Dream Center After-School Program.

ER also provides family counseling, outreach to night workers, and help in building permanent homes for at-risk families.

Programs and Volunteer Opportunities

  • The Women’s Program serves 60+ through two weekly gatherings that provide exercise, nutrition, counseling, skills training, and business support.
  • The Quito Family Resource Center (QFRC) opened in June 2013 and is a place where families from the dump receive basic life-skills/nutrition/exercise training, learn crafts, and more.
  • ER also operates the Dream Center After-School Program for children at the QFRC and a Men’s Program that emphasizes building skills and confidence through making furniture out of pallet wood.

Volunteer Opportunities: Child Development, Teaching/Tutoring, Medical Relief, Counseling Services/Home Visits, Home Construction, Family Development Workshops, Night Outreach, Quito Family Resource Center assistance, Christmas Celebrations, Livelihood Skills.

For more information on volunteering at the Quito Dump program, contact them at mobilization@extremeresponse.org.

I chose Extreme Response International because my friend who grew up in a missionary family in Ecuador was involved in several of their programs. She said her family was actually not a fan of short-term missions because people who did short-term mission trips often had bad attitudes which showed a bad example of Christ.

She said many organizations often do more harm than good by letter inexperienced students come in. However, she said with Extreme Response International, provided more efficient ways for people to volunteer, especially for those considering going into full-time ministry.

She also talked about the benefits of volunteering at extreme relief sits, and how a group of people working together can change people’s lives for the better.

Start today, and volunteer in your community. Maybe there is an opportunity right next door you had no idea about. Serve in your church and be diligent to serve God through abiding in Him and His Word.

You never know what opportunities may come your way.

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