Sometimes it takes stepping into another world to see how you can make a difference.
For Adventures in Missions Founder Seth Barnes, it was a trip to Guatemala in high school that changed his life. He saw poverty and hopelessness that he’d never imagined. From that point on, he knew he wanted to make a difference and committed his life to reaching out to people in need in Jesus’ name.
After the first trip to Guatemala, Barnes continued with mission work, living abroad with his wife and family for several years. In 1989, he founded Adventures in Missions and helped other people encounter the same experience he had.
Since it began 26 years ago, the North Hall County-based organization has provided missions trips to 60 countries around the world with more than 4,000 people participating in annually. It employs 140 people, who work with are churches and coordinate missions trips for individuals in Georgia, other states and countries.
The summer season is a busy time of year for the organization, as it helps individuals and groups plan their mission trips.
“We work with anyone who will admit a statement of faith,” said Bob Mudd, director of programs at Adventures in Missions.
Most of the people who participate in missions trips are from the United States, Mudd said. However, people from Canada, Central America, South Korea, Russia, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and other European countries have participated.
“Our objective is built around the great commandment that Christ gave us, to love one another,” Mudd said. “Other objectives are to let the world know about Christ and help churches thrive around the world.”
Adventures in Missions’ largest program is the World Race, in which participants travel to 11 countries during an 11-month time period. Participants, who average the age of 24, usually visit three to four continents, Mudd said.
“The World Race is a pilgrimage and an initiation experience that applies Jesus’ methods of discipleship in a present day context,” Barnes said.
Adventures in Missions looked at the journeys Jesus sent his disciples on and considered what that would look like today.
“Initially, I thought that the World Race would give 20-somethings the chance to make a difference,” Barnes said. “I was excited about the fruit that they would produce as they took a year to do ministry. But I soon realized that the main fruit of the race occurred internally. Participants leave with a world view that needs shaking to come into alignment with Jesus and his ways. They go through a process of abandonment, brokenness and dependence that wrecks them for the ordinary.”
World Race Gap year is structured similarly, sending participants to three countries in nine months. Typically participants have graduated from high school and have not yet began college and are usually 22 years old or younger.
“For 20 years, I’ve had a vision of raising up a generation of radically committed disciples of Jesus,” Barnes said. “I knew that reaching 20-somethings would be key. Seven years ago, a friend and I were talking about the dream of taking a group of them around the world on a yearlong kingdom journey. The idea hit my spirit and I knew that God was in it. We began organizing and launching it at once.”
Other mission trip programs are offered and range in the amount of time spent abroad and are for various ages.
Currently, Adventures in Missions has 55 long-term missionaries who have committed to living in another country and being a representative for the organization.
When deciding where to send missions trips, Adventures in Missions considers need and how well opportunities will intersect with the organization’s short-term mission strategy.
“Not all types of relief work and missions are suitable for short-term teams,” he said.
The organization’s strategy is to work alongside local people in the areas being served. Short-term missions are typically partnerships with churches or youth groups, Mudd said.
Some of the local organizations that have worked with Adventures in Missions are Highland Church in Cumming, the YMCA, Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville, Free Chapel in Gainesville, Rooster’s Perch in Gainesville, The Torch in Demorest, RAD Ministries in Gainesville and Lanier Hills Church in Gainesville.
“We support them in engaging in ministry around the world, evangelism and relief,” he said. “They may not have infrastructure to do it.”
People who participate in Adventures in Missions trips are asked to attend training sessions prior to leaving.
“We focus acutely on the development of people who participate in our trips,” Mudd said.
The training ensures the health of participants and skills necessary for the trip. They are also trained how to effectively engage with people who are in crisis.
“Our desire is to see transformed lives of those people that we serve and the participants and also prepare them for a life that’s on mission.”
For more information, visit www.adventures.org.