Corey Trenda “provides a unique guide for individuals and teams to make the most of the trip after returning home” in his new book After the Trip: Unpacking Your Crosscultural Experience.
Right away, Trenda agrees that mission and volunteer trips aren’t always beneficial:
“You may be surprised—and disturbed—to learn that studies have almost universally found no measurable long-term effect of these encounters on the lives of trip participants!”
Yet at the same time, he feels certain that this doesn’t have to be the case:
“The key word here is potential, and much of that potential has to do with whether or not this once-upon-a time experience actually becomes integrated into the participant’s ongoing life.”
What does this mean? For Trenda this means synthesizing your experiences into actionable lessons that may change a person’s life trajectory and to ultimately live more like Jesus.
Near the end of his book, Trenda sums up this mindset:
“We are all products of our time and place in history. We are molded, shaped, and truncated by our culture. The tremendous privilege of crosscultural encounters is the opportunity to break through those strictures into a larger world, to see the world more through a God’s-eye view.”
Trenda goes on to describe what this looks like:
“The more we connect with and come to love the other, the less threatening justice becomes and the more creative and courageous we can choose to be.”
The second chapter deals with stewardship—specifically our responsibility to value both the people and the encounters that God puts in our path. Chapter 3 delves more into how properly to reflect on your trip. I particularly appreciated his connection between gratitude and action
Chapters 4 and 5 focus on actionable steps to help change occur and keeping the lines of communication open with the people you’ve met on your trip. Chapter 6 gives suggestions for preparing for future trips with the goal of making your “next trip your best trip.” The final chapter talks about the key to a “life-changing journey.”
I haven’t seen many books that deal with this topic despite several books geared toward missions in the market. As such, I think this will be useful for anyone who has traveled on a mission trip or hopes to in the future, or even quite honestly, any believer who travels at all.
This would also be a very handy guide for trip leaders to use for debriefing their teams, and the book includes suggested discussion questions at the end.
I recommend this book for anyone who is even remotely interested in the crosscultural experience.
As Trenda asserts, crosscultural experiences done right can be life-changing.
(As a disclaimer, I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher but all views expressed are my own.)