Freeing people from physical and spiritual poverty forever and transforming the lives of our volunteers who work to make this happen.
To enable our volunteers to join local people in projects that help them escape poverty and to challenge and motivate them towards future acts of service.
All that Mission Direct does is underpinned by our values. They shape our culture and ethos and impact every activity.
At Mission Direct we value:
Passionate to serve based on biblical principles.
Our People Matter
We put the highest priority on recruiting, developing, valuing and retaining outstanding staff, donors, volunteers and in-country partners.
We join local people in what they already do well, bringing the resources, hope and encouragement that yields a significant legacy.
We do what we say we’ll do – we strive to deliver tangible, high quality outcomes and provide outstanding value for money.
We make a personal difference to each individual we help.
Mission Directs ethos is best summed up by the story of the little boy who saw thousands of dying starfish on a beach. He started to pick them up and throw them back in the sea. “What are you doing?” his mother asked – “How can you hope to make any difference here?” The boy looked in his mother’s eyes and said “Well, I made a difference to that one and that one…”
Like that little boy, every Mission Direct volunteer has an opportunity to improve individual lives. During two life-changing weeks, whether it is building a home for a poor family, a classroom for children hungry to learn or, a shelter for a disabled person, one by one, different acts of kindness make a powerful impact to every individual in need.
Click here to read about our Goals.
The key moment that led to the founding of Mission Direct occurred out of the blue in 1997, according to its founder Nigel Hyde:
“I was working in Egypt and standing outside an ancient church on Mokattam Mountain. It was spectacular. But I was drawn somewhere else. My eyes were transfixed by an old lady rummaging through what seemed like manure. She wanted something to eat or sell.”
“I sensed God calling me to dedicate my life to people like her – trapped by the curse of terrible material and spiritual poverty. The start of a journey that led to Mission Direct…”
Nigel spent several years in an existing mission organisation. But he felt there was a need for a different kind of ‘mission opportunity’.
“Most Christians felt that ‘other people’ did overseas mission. If you couldn’t put your life on hold for years, or didn’t have a special skill, you had nothing to offer.”
“But I sensed that lots of people wanted to serve the poor in person. And not by giving up their homes and jobs either. A profound win-win developed. When people go they are transformed through their volunteering and those served cannot believe we would leave our comfortable lives to join them in what they are doing.”
Nigel founded Mission Direct with three friends in late 2004 with Lawrence Jones, Tim Martindale and Ronnie Fleming. The simple vision: to enable thousands of people to serve the poor on two week trips.
“We all had experience in mission work, so we knew where to find deserving partners. At first it was mostly friends and colleagues that tried out these two week trips. But word spread – this was a great thing to do.”
By the end of 2012 Mission Direct has sent over 2,500 people to trips in twelve countries.
Our aim is to mobilise 15,000 volunteers to make a personal impact overseas by 2020.
Here are the questions that we are most often asked. Click on a question to view our answer.
If you still have questions about Mission Direct, please contact us.
Why should I join a Mission Direct team?
We make it easy - We arrange everything for you: flight, visas, insurance,accommodation and more. Before you go we also brief you thoroughly about your trip.
No specialist skills required - or superhuman strength! Just come willing to lend a hand.
You can watch every penny make a difference - Once you’ve raised you trip contribution, which is easier than you would think, all further money you raise goes direct to the project and the people.
See the lasting impact your work has made -Imagine the smiles of a family moving from the slums into a home that you have helped to build, or a child able to attend school without walking miles each day.
Change your life -As one volunteer put it: “I thought I was going overseas to give to others; in fact they gave back so much more to me.”
Share your faith with actions as well as words - During projects we regularly show The Jesus Film, pray for the sick and invite people to discover Christ for themselves.
It beats lying on a beach! - You can always do that another year!
Joining a Mission Direct team will not only allow you to make a direct personal impact upon the lives of the poor, it is likely to alter your whole outlook on life. Below are just a few comments from former volunteers providing insight:
- “I had a sense that God was calling me to go. I did not have any money but knew He would provide and He did!”
- “I think God may be calling me to full time Christian work and I would like to try something out”.
- “I was bored with holidays on the beach with no purpose; I wanted to do something that helped someone. Mission Direct not only enabled me in this, but the insights I gained will always be with me”.
- “I’m retired and have time on my hands and I am looking for how God may use the experience I have gained”.
A cry has gone out to “make poverty history” and there are many ways to help make this a reality. Our focus is on the people behind the statistics. We offer you the chance to make a visible and significant difference to one specific community. And by meeting and serving real people, you have a chance to be transformed yourself.
How do I apply?
Simply click here or ring the office on 01582 720056 to reserve your place today.
We then ask you to complete a full application form. When complete, please send with a £150 non-refundable contribution (deposit) to Mission Direct, Wesley House, 19 Chapel Street, Luton, LU1 2SE with two colour passport size photographs. All cheques should be made payable to: Mission Direct. You can also contribute by credit card here
Please fill in the application form clearly, as some contact details and other important information can be hard to read.
If you pay income tax, please also fill in the Gift Aid form. Please give details of a referee – ideally a church leader or if you do not know a church leader, a reference from an employer or a person who knows you well. The liability form must also be signed. For applicants under the age of 18 this should be signed by a parent or guardian.
For all applicants under the age of 18 years at the date of outbound travel, a person must be identified going on the trip to act in “loco parentis’ and agree to do so. In this case a “Parental/Guardian Consent Form” will also need to be completed and signed by the parent or guardian.
Once we receive your application we will ring to welcome you and, if appropriate, discuss any matters it may raise. Assuming all is fine; we will then send you a confirmation letter.
Why don’t I just give money and not waste it on going?
Your going is at the heart of our vision and mission. Over 2,500 volunteers have travelled with us and are transformed through their volunteering. This can be your story too. Local people do not want your money, they want relationship. If sending money solved the world poverty issue, we would not have seen the billions sent in aid result in today’s injustices throughout the world.
Some write books on when helping hurts and is this just mission tourism? At Mission Direct we have faced these issues head on and believe passionately that going is vital. Our unique model of operating addresses many of such people’s concerns.
This really important question and has a number of perspectives:
- The fact of the matter is that the money would almost definitely not be raised if you were not going in person. Friends are far, far, more likely to give to a project that you are involved in.
- As well as transforming the local community, this trip is likely to transform your outlook. By seeing the effects of poverty first hand – and seeing it alleviated – your attitude towards poverty and materialism is likely to be transformed along with your long-term giving.
- Often the biggest contribution you make on a trip is a completely unplanned act of kindness or generosity; there are countless stories of these, from a woman who bought a wheelchair for a housebound girl, to another who ended up singing in Spanish to a dying woman.
- Mission Direct trips are all about relationship. Time and again locals tell the teams ‘we can’t believe that you came in person to help us.’ We can assure you that you too will be glad that you made the effort.
If you want to discuss this further, please ring us on 01582 720056.
Can I bring a Group?
Absolutely yes –We run groups from churches, house groups,youth groups, rotaries, work or schools to name a few. Look here for more details about a group Call us on 01582 720056 or Contact us directly for more details on how to bring a group on a Mission Direct trip.
Can I come if I am not a Christian?
Absolutely, yes! About 90% of our volunteers would say they are a Christian and about 10% would say no. Even among our interdenominational Christians there is a wide range of churchmanship and perspectives!
We ask that people are sympathetic to our general ethos, but not that they subscribe to our beliefs. We ask you to participate fully in the programme; we work very closely as a team and need everybody to stick together to be as effective as possible. In particular we ask you to attend our morning devotions and come to any local church services. You are welcome to contribute as and when you feel comfortable doing so, and feel free to ask any of those nagging questions about faith.
Are there any time commitments beyond the 2 week trip?
It is vital that you are ready to go and well prepared. We invite you to join us at an orientation day which we ask you to attend if at all possible. After the trip we similarly invite you to a debrief day. These are typically held in Luton.
What is an orientation day and why is it important to attend?
This is a day enabling you to get personal answers to any question and provide appropriate expectations. You will get to know your fellow team members, learn in detail about the trip and how to prepare for it. It is an integral part of the volunteering ‘package’ helping you to prepare both practically and emotionally for the trip you are about to go on. Amongst other things it helps in the following ways:
- It allows you to meet and bond with your team, preparing you to work together more effectively with our partners and one another.
- We provide you with a detailed handbook covering all aspects of the trip.
- It helps volunteers to come with appropriate expectations of the trip and what they will be doing.
- You will learn more about how to raise further money for your trip, and discover how your fellow volunteers have fundraised.
- You will learn the practical issues, from what to pack, baggage allowances and airport details.
- We provide the latest details about the project you will be working on and what we hope you will be able to do.
As we share vital details, we find those few who do not attend really miss out and often find acclimatising at the start of their trip harder. Whilst we accept there are sometimes diary clashes, please, if at all possible, give this your highest priority to attend. The orientation day will be held on a Saturday in Luton and we provide lunch and refreshments throughout the day.
What is a debrief day and why should I attend?
Returning home to ‘normal life’ can be challenging after everything you experience overseas. For this reason we run a Debrief Day after each campaign to help you make the most of your experiences. It is thechance to get together with all your fellow volunteers, along with the other teams that have beenworking on your project.
There will be joy and tears as people share moving stories of what God has done in their lives and you willhear all the latest news from the partners. We encourage you to consider what is next on your ownjourney and offer the chance to write a sealed letter to yourself that we post to you 6 months later.
Volunteers are so positive about their Debrief Days and we consider this session to be an integral part ofthe trip ‘experience’. For this reason we encourage you to make every effort to attend both theorientation and debrief days.
The debrief day will usually be held on a Saturday in Luton and we provide lunch and refreshments.
What does the volunteers 'contribution' include and exclude?
A volunteer’s basic contribution is used to cover a wide number of costs including flights, transport, accommodation, food and water, travel insurance and visa, entrance to any facilities we visit and the UK part of the programme (including orientation and debrief days). The only additional discretionary money you will need in country will be for buying certain drinks, where appropriate, buying souvenirs and for giving away.
Our programme costs are difficult to estimate accurately in advance with major fluctuations in sterling, airfares, oil prices and the cost of living in unstable economies. Mission Direct is a charity and does not make or distribute any profits.
PLEASE NOTE:The contribution does not include any salary for the overseas staff team, who raise their own funds. It does not cover those essential building project costs; we ask and encourage volunteers to raise additional funds for the actual project once they have raised the requested contribution. 100% of the funds, that you as a volunteer raise for the project, are applied in country.This should not be a pressure. For some, it is a challenge to raise the contribution to come, for others they raise many thousands. On average we have found our volunteers raise an average of £600 per person over their contribution – it’s just amazing how others want to help!
Am I covered for Medical Expenses/Travel Insurance?
Absolutely – The cost is included in your contributions. We have insurance settled for those under 80. If you are older please discuss with one of our volunteer managers. To read full details, you can download a full copy of the policy here
What vaccinations do I need? What medications should I bring?
Vaccination requirements vary from country to country and as each person is different, and may face varying health issues, we will not provide specific advice. We strongly recommend that you seek the advice from your doctor or health clinic as soon as possible. Some doctors offer injections free when they hear what you are doing, others charge.
Yellow fever vaccination is a legal requirement for some countries and your yellow fever certificate may have to be shown to the immigration officials to gain entry. It is also vital that you take anti-malaria advice from your doctor and where appropriate, bring the prophylaxis with you.
What medications should I bring?
Mission Direct has a first aid kit on site at all times but it cannot cover all eventualities. Please ensure that you bring extra supplies of any medications you are taking as these will not be available locally. We expect volunteers to bring their own medication for ailments such as stomach upsets, diarrhoea, colds and headaches. Some choose to leave these supplies in country at the end of their trip.
When you buy anti-mosquito spray or roll on, ask the pharmacist about sprays containing Deet which tend to be more effective.
We recommend that you consult your GP before applying if you have any significant health issues. You are also welcome to ring and ask questions on 01582 720056. Your application form asks for medical details and if we have any questions we will contact you – in some circumstances we may ask for fitness to travel certificate from your GP. Our overseas staff will advise you on keeping healthy – both physically and spiritually. Please come if you are healthy, no matter how old you are.
Any advice on smoking and drinking?
We aim to be sensitive to all people, including the Mission Direct team members and the local community. We recognise that we are ‘guests’ in the countries we visit. They will have a different culture and we need to be respectful of their differing expectations and views. We hope most of our volunteers will be able to refrain from smoking. However, for those that do smoke, we ask for the utmost discretion and to discuss where best to do it with our in-country staff.
Equally we are sensitive about drinking alcohol in some countries. You will find many Christians in Africa, for instance, struggle with a culture that accepts drinking alcohol in moderation. If in doubt it is best to go for soft drinks, especially in the company of Christians from overseas. Our in-country staff will give you more specific advice on these matters depending on where you are visiting.
Are any locations dangerous?
No. We undertake clear health and safety risk assessments. We would never take you if we believed there was any foreseeable danger and we regularly check with the Foreign Office for the latest travel advice. Please contact us if you have any concerns at any time leading up to the trip or contactyour volunteer manager.
Are families, single parents, and children encouraged to come?
Absolutely, Yes! We want to encourage families and single parents to come with us. As many families will tell you, our trips offer an invaluable and memorable experience for children over 7 years old. Please note that we expect all children to take a full part in the programme and would not expect to have them stay back at the hotel, or seek another schedule.
Please note that ideally under 18′s need to be accompanied by a parent or other adult guardian and anin loco parentis form will be required. If you are under 18 and would like to come alone or with a person of similar age, please discuss with our volunteer managers on 01582 720056.
Are there any age-related issues?
The oldest person to join a Mission Direct trip so far has been in his late 80’s and there are many volunteers in their 70’s.
Age is not necessarily a limiting factor, although there are some issues you may want to consider. The pace of the journey is not slow, and tropical, humid heat can be a factor in some countries. Please call the Mission Direct office for specific information on climate or accommodation if you are unsure.
Everybody is encouraged to contribute at their own pace; in consultation with your in-country staff it may be appropriate to opt out of a particularactivity to rest, and there are always less physically taxing activities available.
The youngest child to have come on a Mission Direct trip is 7 years old. Please do call to discuss the suitability of a destination for younger children, as we love families to come. If you are over 80 please check with us about health insurance.
How can I encourage my church to support me on this trip?
If you are a churchgoer, you will often find that your church is keen to assist you in raising your trip contribution and keen to support you in prayer.
Like most things, we find that great personal communication and a good relationship with your church leaders and where appropriate, mission committee members will make a difference. We can provide you with the information and material that will help.
Why not ask your leaders to invite one of our ambassadors or staff to speak at a Sunday service, or specially arranged meeting for those interested in learning more.
Hopefully there will be an opportunity to share with your church and other community groups, about your Mission Direct outreach experiences. If you require material or speakers to encourage others to join you on a trip, please contact us.
Do I need a reference?
On our application form, we ask for a church leader’s signature because we hope this will help you to engage your church family in getting behind you in this way. On rare occasions, a church leader may have concerns and this process will facilitate any necessary discussion.
If you are not a Christian or in a church, we ask that you provide a simple reference from someone like an employer or friend who knows you well.
How can I raise the money?
In our surveys we found that about 40% cite the concern over raising the money as a reason not to come. This is a pity as time and time again, when people decide to come on a Mission Direct trip, they discover how remarkably easy it is to raise the necessary money.
Please don’t let the fear of not having enough money stop you from committing to come. We have developed an outstanding fundraising toolkit, complete with numerous fundraising tips. You can receive a copy by contacting us or registering for a free downloaded copy.
Do I need a visa?
It depends on the country. We sort the cost of visas and departure taxes within the contribution and will advise what is needed for each country. Mission Direct will apply for your visa if required. For Sierra Leone we will advise you in good time and will need your passport in advance.
Can I make personal visits to friends, family, sponsored children or plan my own visits during the trip?
You are joining a team. We want work together, laugh together, cry together, pray together and stay together. If you are missing from the team, the team is missing you and you are missing the team’s experiences. Therefore we ask you not to make arrangements for personal visits and meetings during the trip. However we are happy to change your personal flight so that you can make use of your time in the country to visit friends, family, sponsored children or personal visits outside the trip dates.
Can I opt out of prayer times, church visits or other Christian activities during the trip?
You are joining a Christian Mission trip. We pray each morning, before meals and at other times during the day. We go to local Church services. These are an integral part of the trip and although you do not have to be a Christian yourself to join a team, we do ask you to participate fully in all these activities. We work as a team. We will not embarrass you or ask you to pray out loud, as we are sensitive to each ones spiritual journey. Non-Christians who have come with us are often surprised how inclusive and enjoyable these experiences are, often quite different from what they expected.
What should I wear on my trip?
Different countries and cultures have different views about what is and is not acceptable to wear. We ask that all volunteers respect these sensitivities in their choice of clothing. You will be given detailed information about the dress code for your trip in your country handbook, and the topic will be discussed on your orientation day.
In general cool, comfortable, loose fitting clothing is advisable. Remember you may be doing such practical – and messy – tasks as painting and building, and so dress accordingly. Do not buy new clothes; rather we recommend you pack old ones you will not miss. Some people acquire appropriate clothing from their local charity shops. Many volunteers leave much of their clothing behind for the local community.
Your feet must always be fully covered on the work site, while open shoes or sandals are acceptable at other times. In some countries, jumpers may be needed in the evenings. You will be advised about expected temperatures for your trip, use your common sense and pack accordingly.
Where will we stay in country?
It is important to us that you get a good night’s sleep as the schedule, at times, can be busy. We look for good quality, clean and appropriate accommodation. Depending on which country you visit, it can vary from a modern hotel with facilities, to a basic guest house. On occasions there may be no running or hot water and you may find showers are just a bucket of warm water and a jug! At times there may be limited electricity too. If the standard of accommodation is important to you, you may wish to discuss which trips would be suitable for you with our volunteer managers on 01582 720056.
When in transit, we try to put married couples together but it may not be possible for a night or two. Where possible we will also try and accommodate children (18 and under) with parents, where requested.
How much spending money should I bring?
This is difficult to answer and depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. The only things you really need additional cash for are buying souvenirs, certain drinks and for giving away.
At the end of your trip, we will provide you with a form that helps you consider if you wish to make any additional donations to any of the partners you have met on your journey. Often volunteers are moved by one thing or another and want to contribute in a sensitive way, facilitated by our staff. You may want to have some cash for this or simply make a pledge to give it or raise it on your return.
How do you select your partners and projects?
This is the subject of careful thought and prayer. The countries we work in have come through our leaders relationships. In determining a suitable project we have key criteria we apply as to whether we can be of help. This is linked to our values. Typically we look for a group doing a great job and then look to join them in what they are doing. For example, if a school is operating effectively under a mango tree, is well constituted and has land, we may be able to build a school.
If you would like more detail, then please ring us on 01582 720056
How are you funded and how much goes in administration costs?
We are primarily funded by volunteers making contributions which cover all the trip costs. In addition our volunteers raise funds for the projects. We also rely on kind donors like you, who want to make that personal difference. Our Overseas staff cover all their costs personally and several of our UK staff offer their services for free or a small stipend.
Our projects are funded as 100% of all money volunteers raise goes to the project they are visiting. Where funds allow, the management team also allocate some undesignated funds to projects so as much as possible goes to help those we serve and we seek donations from individuals, trusts and others. We strive to be completely transparent about our finances. Our approach is set out in our accounts and summarised here.