FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will me team be doing? Who are we working with? What's included in the cost? Who can go on these trips?

Why go with Servant Life?

Our team at Servant Life has two primary functions: serving local churches here in the U.S. and Canada, and serving and supporting the work of missionaries around the world.

Servant Life serves the Church by equipping and sending believers on mission to the nations. Our 20+ years of experience in short-term trips makes missions possible for churches around the world. Many churches do not have the training, experience, connections, or time to organize and execute trips of this magnitude. This is where Servant Life steps in. Our trips are all-inclusive, which means that we focus on the details so that you can focus on ministry with your team. Our team will work with in-country missionaries to take care of food, lodging, transportation, and ministry experiences for your short-term mission trip. In addition to securing your airfare with our professional travel agent, we also provide international traveler's insurance, trip devotionals, training videos, and other resources as part of your basic trip cost. Servant Life exists to be a fantastic resource for churches as you make disciples of all nations. 

Servant Life serves missionaries by equipping and sending the Church. According to our mission partners, on average it takes more than 50 phone calls, e-mails, and touch points to connect a team to come serve with them, not to mention countless hours before that trying to find and recruit churches to come serve with them. Recruiting and equipping teams for the mission field requires time and resources that most missionaries do not have, as this pulls them away from their on-going ministry in their local context. Servant Life is ready to answer your calls, emails, tweets, Facebook messages, at your convenience and in your time zone. We can prepare you for the majority of the details for your trip to alleviate some of those communication logistics from the missionary, and then as we get closer to the trip the mission team in that location will be able to communicate the specifics of your schedule as it relates to your trip. Servant Life will also provide training materials for your trip to walk through such topics about the "Why" of missions, how to share your faith, culture shock, and other logistical considerations, so that you show up prepared to serve in your context. Servant Life is not only a great resource for the Church, but a great resource for missionaries as well.

Who can go on a Servant Life trip?

Servant Life hosts many youth mission trips, college mission trips, and adult trips, though all of our trips are originally designed with the safety of student teams in mind. Trips will only occur if there is a group (youth, college, or adults) signed up to go. For individuals interested in joining an existing group, we will do our best to add you on to a group already planning to serve, but this is not always possible.

If registering and traveling with their church group for an international trip (or New York City), participants generally must be 14 years old or older to take part in a Servant Life missions experience (though we do allow for some exceptions to this; please contact us if you have questions). While we tend to focus on the minimum age, we want to assure you that even for student trips, adults are more than welcome to participate as well! Servant Life asks for at least a 1 to 5 adult to student ratio, but some groups even end up closer to 1 to 1 ratio, and we always love it when this happens because we know adults want to serve the nations as well. 

If registering and traveling with their church group for a domestic trip in Memphis, St. Louis, in Houston, participants can be middle school age or high school. If you have a handful of younger students wanting to participate, that is generally acceptable as long as the majority of your group is at least middle school aged or high school aged. Please keep in mind the above mentioned ratio of 1 adult to every 5 students.

If registering as an individual participant (without an adult) who wishes to join an existing group, students must be 16 years old or older and go through an application process, and we must have a team willing to have you join as an individual.

Can college students go?

Yes! While we emphasize that our trips are safe for younger students, that does not mean they are only designed for younger students. In many locations, we are working with youth and children, and we have found that college students excel in this type of ministry. We also have some specifically designated College Weeks in which only college-aged students will participate in some locations. Additionally, Servant Life has launched the A1eight Project, an opportunity for college-aged individuals to serve with a missionary for the entire summer.

Are Servant Life trips safe?

Servant Life makes every effort to keep your students safe during their entire short term mission trip experience. We carefully vet our mission partners before sending a group and take vision trips to check in on how they are doing. Most importantly, we work with partners in the country or location who are familiar with the areas in which we will be staying and serving. This is the benefit of working with locals who know their context and culture best; instead of someone from Servant Life trying to take you into an unfamiliar setting and try to lead you effectively, we rely on our on-the-ground mission partners who operate in that context on a year-round basis. We believe this model is not only best in regards to keeping teams safe, but also in utilizing teams effectively for ministry. We want to join the work of local ministry partners in places where they already have an ongoing ministry presence in a safe environment. We know and plan for the safest places for your team to eat, sleep, work, and have fun. We do recognize that any "safe place" can become unsafe in a matter of seconds if an outside threat comes in, but sadly we have seen this type of threat become more prevalent in our own country than many of the places we serve. We take safety very seriously and our partners on the ground do their due diligence to keep teams in the safest positions possible.

 

Who do we work with on our trip?

All of our trips feature work with established missionary partners in the Servant Life network. These are either missionaries or ministry leaders who have a history of service in the country (or location), as well as ministry opportunities and programs that align with the mission and vision of Servant Life, our core values, and what we believe. The people leading your team for the week are going to be the people who are staying behind and continuing to serve that context well after your team leaves. We believe this is important, as we do not want to be "rogue missionaries" dropping into a context, trying to find some ministry to do, and then departing without any kind of follow-up strategy or ministry plan. We know the importance of working with local partners who have a long-term strategy in place, viewing short-term teams as a catalyst for much larger kingdom impact.

How does the trip cost work?

Servant Life trips are priced at a BASE COST PLUS AIRFARE (or plus travel, if driving). The base cost varies per location and can be found by visiting the Mission Trips page. The cost varies from trip to trip simply because our partners have different cost structures in their contexts and different expenses. For example, some partners own their own facilities, whereas in some locations we have to pay for hotels or lodging. There are also different external factors such as visas or other expenses, which are required for some locations but not for others.

The base cost covers all of your in-country expenses, including meals, lodging, transportation*, and even expenses like translators and local staff for the week. The base cost also covers pre-trip training resources, traveler's insurance** for international trips, a t-shirt for everyone, as well as an awesome four-week devotional for every participant. Some trips that feature camp and event ministries include scholarship funds in the base cost so you are helping students come to camp in these international contexts. Servant Life will also book your airfare through our travel agent. Contact us if you would like an airfare estimate, and be sure to check out our financial guidelines to see a payment plan.

*Transportation is not provided for domestic trips like Memphis, St. Louis, Houston, and Toronto. It is provided in NYC.

** For participants over the age of 50, there may be an additional charge (typically around $25) to cover the increased cost of trip insurance.

What is not covered in the trip cost?

While we work towards an all-inclusive model in order to take as many logistical details off your plate as possible, there are some expenses that will be your responsibility such as passports, any immunizations that are needed, and  any meals on the way to and from your location (like at the airport). The price of airfare is not included in the listed trip cost, but we can help secure that with our travel agent to make this as easy as possible for you while also trying to get the cheapest price for your group (while airfare is not included in the cost, the price of in-country transportation is included for all international locations except for Toronto; you'll be picked up from the airport and driven everywhere during the week). You are also able to book airfare on your own if you prefer to do so (although we ask to approve the itinerary first). Additionally, while many of our trips include some type of "free day" or cultural day, there are often some optional expenses such as spending money at the market or maybe some type of excursion such as zip-lining.

How does booking airfare work?

We recognize that this is a daunting hurdle for many groups, so Servant Life offers to book all airfare through our travel agency, though you may book with your own travel agent if you prefer to do so. We simply want you to get the best rate possible! Generally everyone on your team must travel together, though we may be able to take exceptions on a case by case basis; we book group airline tickets and therefore cannot always accommodate special requests for different individual flights. Due to commitments to our missionaries to have groups there on set dates, trip dates are not always flexible, but once again we are happy to consider requests on a case by case basis. Generally with our travel agent, we can hold your airfare tickets with a deposit a few months in advance of your trip, but then the full price of the ticket is due around 45 days before your trip. If you cancel an airfare ticket, we will refund you anything that the airline refunds us, but you would have to pay the cancellation penalty that the airline sets. Airline tickets are non-transferrable as they are tied to a person's name, and they are only partially refundable based on whatever policies the airline implements for your specific booking. Airfare can be a headache to tackle by yourself, but we try to alleviate that burden for you and make it easy!

 

What will my team be doing on a Servant Life trip?

Servant Life works with missionary partners in each country. Your team will be helping local missionaries with various needs, and exact details may vary from trip to trip based on the strategic ministries of those missionaries. Sample activities include hosting VBS activities, giving leadership to a day camp or conducting sports camps, evangelism, "backyard Bible clubs," teaching English to internationals, helping with food and clothing distribution, home visits, or other community events, with an emphasis on sharing the gospel and the hope of Christ in conjunction with each of these activities. Specific details for each short term mission trip can be found by clicking on the trip's link and looking under the "What will my team be doing?" section.

Will it just be my team, or will others be joining us?

For almost all of our trip locations, your group will be the only team serving with the mission partner that week, so you will only be around people from your church or group, as well as any of our in-country partners. In some locations, our ministry partners do host multiple groups at a time, but in this kind of scenario you would typically not be doing ministry with those other groups. For example, you could be staying at the same lodging facility, but working in completely separate communities during the day.

Will we receive any training?

Training for your trip will take place in two phases: the training that your group does together before your trip happens, and the training / orientation that you will receive once you arrive at your trip destination. For pre-trip training, Servant Life will send your group leader a few different resources. One of these is a Field Manual with detailed, specific information for the location in which you will be. We will also send over digital content for four different training sessions covering topics such as the "Why?" of missions, how to share your faith, culture shock and cultural sensitivity, and logistical preparation. Your group should go over these sessions (or through your own similar content) in the weeks and months leading up to the trip. Then, once you arrive, you will typically have some kind of orientation with our mission partners in preparation for the week ahead, in which they will go over safety and safe practices in addition to other ministry prep, vision casting, and logistical details.

 

Do I need a passport for my trip?

We encourage anyone interested in an international mission trip with Servant Life to go ahead and apply for a passport, as you will need a passport for all international travel (Canada is one exception to this, as you can enter with a passport card; however, a passport card will be extremely limited for future international travel, making the passport a better option for most people). The amount of time it takes to get a passport varies, and we generally recommend securing passports before purchasing airfare, since the name on the airfare must match the passport exactly (you can book airfare before having your passport, but if there is a typo in your passport, we would have to make the airfare match that, and there could be a penalty to make changes to your airfare at a later date). Any costs associated with obtaining a passport are solely your responsibility. You can download a passport application and read instructions on obtaining a passport online by searching for "apply for passport travel.state.gov." For international travel, it is required for your passport to have at least six months of validity past your travel dates (so if your trip is June 1 - 8, the passport would need to expire after December 9 of that year).

Note: You do NOT need a passport for travel to Puerto Rico.

Do I need a visa for my trip?

With most of our international locations, you are able to enter the country with a valid passport and do NOT need a visa. However, with some locations such as Cuba, Kenya, and Uganda, a visa is required in order to enter the country. The price of this visa is included in your trip cost, so it is factored into the cost of the trip. Our team at Servant Life will walk you through the process of securing these visas (in places like Kenya and Uganda), or we will obtain them for you in places like Cuba.

Will I need a background check?

For groups serving on a Servant Life trip, the group leader will need to sign an agreement stating that background checks have been performed for all adult leaders 18 years or older. For individuals, Servant Life will perform a background check for you if you are 18+ (which may require an additional $10 surcharge; there is NO surcharge if you are with a group and your group leader is taking care of this through the church, however).

Do I need any immunizations?

Immunizations and any costs related to them are the sole responsibility of the trip participant. All childhood immunizations should be complete: measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and TDaP (tetanus, diptheira, and pertussis). We also HIGHLY advise any immunizations recommended by your physician and/or the CDC website for the area of travel. Both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are strongly recommended for all international travel. While we can make recommendations if you ask, it is solely the traveler's responsibility to obtain information on required/recommended travel immunizations and travel precautions for the area based on your specific health and the advisement of your doctor. Ultimately, it will be up to your discretion, as we are not medical experts and default to your local doctor, the CDC, and your own judgment. Please give us a call if you have questions about this. The CDC website is www.cdc.gov/travel and has up-to-date information on immunizations for every country.

What happens after I register?

Shortly after you register, you will receive an email from the Servant Life team letting you know we have received your registration and confirming the availability of the dates you've selected. That email will contain a link to our online Prepcenter with information regarding training resources, trip prep info, paperwork, etc. We ask for initial deposits by November 1, and paperwork is due March 1. If you register after November 1, we ask for the deposit within 30 days of registering. A registration is not confirmed and dates are not guaranteed until we have received your deposit. If you need to ask for an adjustment regarding the timeline, we would love to work with you to reach a suitable arrangement.

How many adults do I need for a student trip?

We request that groups bring at least 1 adult for every 5 student participants, but it is ok if you have even more than this. This minimum number is to ensure to the team's safety not only during your trip, but even while traveling. Each setting you are working in is an area designated specifically for youth and college teams, but when traveling in a foreign context that you are unfamiliar with, it is always wise to have sufficient adult supervision.

Why go on a mission trip when we can just send money to that mission partner instead?

This is a good question, and one that every mission partner needs to consider before inviting short-term teams to come serve. Ultimately, it comes down to three simple reasons:

  • Our mission partners are operating in a ministry context in which short-term teams are valuable assets toward achieving their long-term goals. This isn't the case for all missionaries, but we have strategically partnered with those who have an opportunity for teams to make a big impact. If our partners lacked these strategic ministry opportunities, we would have to agree that sending a team on some kind of "Christian field trip" would be unwise.

  • To take that a step further, we help missionaries achieve what they could not otherwise achieve on their own. In many instances, having a team of Americans or westerners can open up numerous doors. We have had many partners tell us that they struggled to have a ministry presence in a certain school, for example, but that as soon as they offered to bring in an American team, the school welcomed them with open arms. Many nationals will look forward to meeting you, and we take advantage of this curiosity in order to faithfully share the gospel. If your presence opens the door for relational ministry opportunities to share the gospel, that's an act that we can't quantify with a dollar amount.

  • Lastly, we believe that a mission trip is not only about how God uses you to serve and love others, but how God works in you as an individual and as a group. We have heard countless stories of people getting back from mission trips as completely changed people. As pastor David Platt put it, if you'll spend one week of the year on a mission trip, it will radically change how you view the other 51 weeks. Likewise, we have heard from many career missionaries that it was a short-term mission trip experience that played a pivotal role in their calling to long-term missions. Even if you don't end up as a career missionary, we want future generations to be full of missionally-minded Christians, full of people who are going to live their lives generously and sacrificially in order to the see gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed among the nations. For these reasons, we believe there is tremendous value and opportunity for kingdom advancement in short-term missions.

Will someone from Servant Life come with us on our trip? Who "leads" our trip?

All of our trips feature work with established missionary partners in the Servant Life network, and these are the people who will be leading your trip for the week in conjunction with the group leader from your church or organization. These are either missionaries or ministry leaders who have a history of service in the country (or location) and are experienced at hosting short-term teams. While we could try to send someone from Servant Life on every trip, there are a few reasons we choose not to do this. First of all, that would increase the cost of our trips, and we are committed to keeping trip prices low for our churches. But more than that, the people leading your team for the week are experts in their local context, and they going to be the people who are staying behind and continuing to serve that context well after your team leaves. We believe this is important, as we do not want to be "rogue missionaries" dropping into a context, trying to find some ministry to do, and then departing without any kind of follow-up strategy or ministry plan. We know the importance of working with local partners who have a long-term strategy in place and are best-suited to engage in successful ministry in their context.

How do we make payments for our trip?

Trip payments can be made in two ways:

  • You can send payment by check to Servant Life at PO Box 36307, Birmingham, AL 35236.

  • You can call our office during business hours (8:00 - 4:30 p.m. CST, Monday - Friday) at 1.800.772.2615 and pay by credit card. All credit card payments will be subject to a 2.5% credit card processing fee.

Can someone make a donation toward my trip?

Yes, donations can be made in two ways:

  • Donors can send a check to Servant Life at PO Box 36307, Birmingham, AL 35236. They should include a note with their donation letting us know who the donation is for and the name of that person's church and trip location (e.g. John Bunyan, Christ Church, Guatemala).

  • Donors can give us a call at during business hours (8:00 - 4:30 p.m. CST, Monday - Friday) at 1.800.772.2615 and make a donation via credit card.

Can I use frequent flyer miles to purchase airfare for my trip?

Typically when we book a group's airfare with our travel agent, these are booked through humanitarian contracts with the airlines and we are unable to use frequent flyer miles. However, if you have one or two people wanting to use frequent flyer miles, it is possible that we could book the majority of your group with our travel agent, and those one or two people could purchase tickets on their own using flyer miles (as long as they are on the same itinerary as everyone else). In the event of a travel delay or change in plans, however, our travel agent would be unable to assist those whose tickets they did not book, and you would need to be ok with this possibility.

Have other questions? Shoot us a quick email, or give us a call at 800.772.2615, and we'd love to connect!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Servant Life

P.O. Box 36307

Birmingham, AL 35236

1.800.772.2615

info@servantlife.com

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit..." - Matthew 28:19

© 2020 by Servant Life