by Drew Davis
Having a mission trip cancelled can feel as if the rug is pulled out from beneath you. You have spent lots of time in prayer, talking to others about it, fundraising, training, and gearing up for the adventure ahead. What should you do if it is cancelled? While not an exhaustive list, here are some key things to keep in mind as you navigate the days and weeks ahead.
1. Assume the best – Have confidence that the organization and leaders for your trip are trying to make the best decision possible. This was not an easy decision for them and although you may have lots of questions, trust that they were looking at all the data and trying to make a wise decision for you and your other participants.
2. Get clarity on fundraising – If you have raised funds for the
trip, there are governing tax rules that your organization must consider. Therefore, their options for what they do with the funds raised are usually limited. In most cases, you can apply the funds to a future trip. However, there may have already been expenses (e.g. tickets, pre-purchasing supplies, etc.). The situation can be complex, so get clarity from your leadership or organization on how they will handle any funds that are raised.
3. Have patience and be flexible – It is hard to sit and wait for updates. Typically, when situations arise, there are several trips that are impacted and dozens (if not hundreds) of participants. In many cases, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation will
be fluid and changing on a daily/weekly basis. Leverage existing systems of communication to get regular updates, or jump in and ask if you can help the org/team in any way.
4. Pray – While the situation is developing, pray for peace and wisdom for you, for your team, for your team leaders, for the organization, and for the partners/people in the field. A decision to cancel a trip will have a ripple-like impact. In most cases, it might be merely an inconvenience or delay, but for some trips, the impact is greater. Pray for clarity on the decisions that need to be made in light of this cancellation and the lives that will be impacted.
5. Communicate – Once an official decision is made, communicate with your donors and those who are supporting you. They
will want to hear from you directly, so provide them as much information as is practical (e.g. “the trip has been postponed and donations will be applied when I go in August” or “The trip has been postponed and due to the developing conditions, I will update you in a month with what our decision will be.”).
Regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, recognize that having a trip cancelled is usually just a delay. If your heart is set on that country, that trip, or those people, it is likely you will be able to accomplish that, but it might be next year or several months down the road. Leverage this time to help prepare your heart for what God might be doing in you, in your team, or in your field partners, so you will be ready whenever your time to go finally arrives.
Blessings on your journey, and remember — no matter how crazy things get, we serve someone who knows and is in control!