How is the cost determined?

What is the team member’s expected contribution?

Do we make every effort to explore “bargains” and “special deals” to minimize airline costs?

What is not included in the cost of the trip?

Will I need shots?

What is a visa?

What about travel insurance?

Is it acceptable to raise money through car washes, bake sales, rummage sales, etc.?

Is financial support available from the church?

How critical are the financial deadlines?

Is this trip tax deductible?

What is the proper way to explain to people how to give money to my ministry?

If I decide to cancel my involvement in the trip or the trip itself is canceled, can I get my money back?

What if more money comes in for me than what I need?

What if less money comes in for me?

Is it acceptable to pay your own way if you have sufficient funds?

Is it possible for individuals to arrange separate itineraries to visit friends, participate in other ministries, sightsee before or after the project, or to use personal frequent flyer miles?

Is it possible to find out who has given and how much they have given toward my support?

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How is the cost determined?

Each team budget can contain 30 or more major expense categories. Some of these include airfare; vehicle rental and gasoline; housing; food; faxes; shipping; visas and work permits; training materials and speakers; and ministry materials for door-to-door evangelism, youth programs, sports evangelism, adult discipleship, and construction. Every effort is made to minimize costs without jeopardizing the quality, effectiveness, or safety of the ministry.

What is the team member’s expected contribution?

Each short term team participant should contribute at least 10% out of his/her own personal finances toward the cost the trip. This will include the $75 deposit (submitted with the team application), but this 10% will not include any of the above-and-beyond personal costs incurred in preparation for the trip (passports, shots and meds, postage for support letters, etc. For more information, see Question D.). If a team member raises the full amount of the trip cost from contributions, he/she should still contribute 10% toward the needs of others on their team who are lacking support. A check from the team member for the 10% should be made out to Bethlehem Baptist Church and mailed to the Short Term Ministry Mobilization department at least one month before the team departs. Team members unable to make this financial commitment should contact Brad Nelson, 612-338-7653 x450 immediately.

Do we make every effort to explore “bargains” and “special deals” to minimize airline costs?

No. We have found that 90% of the time “the deal” excludes the specific area we are going to, and it either sidesteps the travel agent or minimizes his financial benefit. Our travel agent is a specialist in working with short term ministry groups going to developing countries. His efforts and expertise have not only saved us money in the long run, but they have given us invaluable help with foreign governments, international banking, travel insurance, passports, visas, and emergency changes in travel itinerary.

What is not included in the cost of the trip?

  • passports/passport photos
  • prayer letters
  • medical exams, shots, and travel medications (Note that these could total well over $100, depending on your individual medical insurance coverage.)
  • souvenirs
  • personal meals separate from the team
  • some tourist-type events

Will I need shots?

Most of the places we go to do recommend immunizations. Some countries may “require” immunization against a particular disease. If an immunization is required, you must have proof of that immunization to enter the country or to return to the United States. For the most up-to-date information on what is needed for the country you will visit, contact Centers for Disease Control or a local travel clinic. Wherever you go, your tetanus should be up to date and you should have the “Hepatitis A” series of shots.

What is a visa?

A visa is an entry requirement required by a foreign government in addition to your passport. Not all foreign governments require a visa. A visa may be stamped on your passport, or a paper visa may be affixed to your passport.

If a visa is required, we’ll provide the appropriate visa application forms for you to complete. Most visa applications require 2-3 passport-size photos as well. The visa fees for each team member are included in the team budget. (Note: If you are not a U.S. citizen, please make sure that the team leader and the Short Term Ministry Department know this. It may mean a different visa process for you.)

If you do not have a passport, we recommend that you begin the process immediately. Complete passport information can be found here.

Most countries require that travelers’ passports not expire within six months of the end of travel. Please check your passport immediately. If it is set to expire within six months at the end of this trip, please begin the process to renew it now.

What about travel insurance?

Basic emergency medical evacuation/transportation; trip cancellation; lost baggage, and accidental death & dismemberment coverage is included in the team budget.

For anything outside of this list, you will need to purchase your own overseas medical insurance or check your current insurance to find out if you are covered. Several insurance companies specialize in short-term missions travel coverage at inexpensive rates. Contact the Short Term Ministry Mobilization Department for a list of options.

Is it acceptable to raise money through car washes, bake sales, rummage sales, etc.?

The key question to ask is, “Would raising money in this way diminish the value of my short term ministry in the eyes of my family and friends?” In light of this possibility, we encourage people to raise funds primarily through their prayer letters. Also, raising funds through prayer letters gives you experience for what it would be like to raise funds for a long-term missions assignment. Lastly, we don’t want to enable people to think giving to missions is only worthy when receiving a personal benefit.

Is financial support available from the church?

We have found, 99% of the time, that if prayer letters are sent out on schedule and at least 50 copies are mailed, all the funds come in. Bethlehem’s Short Term Ministry Committee will consider providing up to 10% to those team members who are under-supported and who meet the criteria for Short Term Ministry financial assistance. Contact the Global Outreach department (612-338-7653) for more information.

How critical are the financial deadlines?

The deadlines are vital. Usually the deadline is determined based on a major payment for airlines, visas, housing accommodations, or vehicle rental deposits. Therefore, every effort must be made to make payments on time. If, through unforeseen circumstances, this is not possible, let your team leader know as soon as possible.

Is this trip tax deductible?

Yes, each person who gives financial support to you will receive a receipt, as long as the check is made out to Bethlehem Baptist Church. The church will only give receipts on donations of $25 or more. Otherwise, the canceled check is the receipt. Please make sure your financial supporters are aware of this.

Your personal contributions to the trip are also deductible as a charitable donation (this includes your trip deposit). However, in order for a contribution to be deductible, it must also be non-refundable. If you change your mind about participating on a team, or something arises that prevents you from going as planned, all monies given for you (both your personal monies and monies contributed by your family/friends), are not refundable AND non-transferable.

Other personal trip-related expenses paid by participants may be deductible as charitable contributions. Consult IRS Publication 526 and/or your tax preparer for more specific information.

What is the proper way to explain to people how to give money to my ministry?

The explanation should contain the following information:

Contributions should be above and beyond normal tithes and offering commitments they have made. Checks must be made out to Bethlehem Baptist Church. Encourage your supporters to give online.

Your name should not be noted anywhere on the check, but it should be noted on the “Financial Response” form provided. Contributions must not be included in the Bethlehem church offering. instruct your supporters to use the envelopes you provide. Funds that exceed your individual needs will go to assist others on your team. Excess funds will not carry over for your participation on another Bethlehem-sponsored short term team or a future short term or long-term ministry with a mission agency. Funds that exceed your team’s need will go to assist other Bethlehem-sponsored teams. Contributions are non-refundable. All funds must be in by the final deadline.

If I decide to cancel my involvement in the trip or the trip itself is canceled, can I get my money back?

According Bethlehem’s interpretation of the tax codes/laws, tax-deductible contributions are non-refundable. These funds will however, stay in the Short Term Ministry Fund to assist other Bethlehem-sponsored teams.

If you cancel your involvement after travel documents are purchased (airfare, visas, etc.) you will be expected to cover all of the fees, penalties, and losses incurred to that point. If you have questions about this, feel free to contact Thayne Rossiter, Bethlehem’s church treasurer, at 612-338-7653 x479. If the Short Term Ministry department cancels the trip, we will do our best to refund all your money

What if more money comes in for me than what I need?

Throughout this ministry you will function as part of a team. Your effectiveness is determined not just from an individual standpoint, but also as a team. Also, each person’s ability to raise funds varies depending on who they know, how many people they know, their ability to communicate effectively, etc. Therefore, since the goal is to fund the entire team, any monies given beyond what you need will go to support other team members who are struggling with their funds.

What if less money comes in for me?

Sometimes God uses a serious lack of support as an indicator that a person should not go on a particular project. Our guideline is that each team member has at least 50% of his/her support one month before departure. If this does not happen, please discuss it with your team leader, and you will be given the option of paying the difference or postponing your involvement. As previously mentioned, any surplus funds raised by other team members will go to help support team members who are under-supported (by 30% or less at three weeks before departure).

If you are short of funds before you leave for the trip, and everyone’s excess has already been applied to those who are low on support, and the church’s contribution has been added to your account, then you will have to personally make up the difference.

Is it acceptable to pay your own way if you have sufficient funds?

Every aspect of our short term assignments is designed to encourage team members in their relationship with God and to give them practical experience in what it is like to be a missionary. This includes how the project is funded. Even if team members can afford to pay for the entire trip themselves, they should cover no more than 50% of their own support need and should send out prayer letters to raise the remaining 50%.

If the other 50% needed does not come in by one month prior to departure, participants are welcome to pay the outstanding balance out of their personal finances. However, we emphasize that one of the critical goals of these trips is to involve as many people as possible in world missions and to help you understand what it is like to be a missionary. If you pay your own way, it eliminates 20-40 people from being involved in missions, and you have not experienced the pleasure and pain of humbly trusting God to provide beyond your ability to provide for yourself. Other benefits of raising support including …

  • Learning to trust God to provide for your needs through the body of Christ, rather than your own means
  • Having the body of Christ endorse you in a tangible way
  • Providing an opportunity to expose your family and friends to to missions. Looking out for the needs of other team members, and not only your own.

Is it possible for individuals to arrange separate itineraries to visit friends, participate in other ministries, sightsee before or after the project, or to use personal frequent flyer miles?

We do not plan separate itineraries for people except when they need to do so to accomplish the goals of the team.

We have found that our travel arrangements go much more smoothly if everyone is on the same itinerary. Having separate itineraries not only makes it more complicated for the travel agents, but also makes it difficult to arrange for group discounts and to maintain quality travel and housing arrangements. Separate itineraries also tend to disrupt team bonding and unity.

Is it possible to find out who has given and how much they have given toward my support?

You will be emailed financial reports with amounts and names of people who are supporting you. It is our hope that you will use these reports to send thank you notes and prayer updates.

© 2014 Bethlehem Baptist Church