Local Churches Outline A Mission Trip Screening Process

| February 9, 2010

The arrest of ten Americans in Haiti and the kidnapping charges filed against them have raised some questions about how church organizations and missionary groups operate. Many churches tell us they run extensive background checks on those interested in volunteering.

Joanna Dunn, Assistant Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Boise, said the screening process helps ensure the travelers' intentions are good, and explains exactly what's involved in the trip.

The process involves background checks on everyone in the group, including international agencies working through the project, and volunteers from partnering churches.

"Make sure no one has felonies, drunk driving arrests, or abusive charges. We want to make sure everyone is safe," said Dunn.

A missionary team from First Presbyterian Church helped built homes for low-incomes families in Costa Rica. Dunn said during that trip, understanding what's acceptable overseas and the law of the country—was a must.

"(Laws in Costa Rica) don't have the same standards and we have to respect it and keep it safe," said Dunn.

The church outlined their goals, including each person's responsibilities to ensure everyone knew the team's goals—including the foreign government.

"It's very important to know as much as you can about the team and the country you'll be visiting. You don't want to go to a place and you have one idea and (government officials) have a total different plan," said Dunn.

The volunteers jailed in Haiti for attempting to bring children across the border to the Dominican Republic won't impact their screening process, but it has heightened awareness about what these missions entail. Dunn said she hopes more people will learn what questions should be asked before entering the country.



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Category: Mission Trip/Missionary Security

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