Mission Check-List



Before departure:


  1. 1.    Vehicles
  • Plan which vehicles and trailers are needed for the trip. Ensure the vehicles are up to the nature of the terrain, road condition, load and number of passengers.
  • Ensure all vehicles are road-worthy and safe, with good tyres and seat-belts. Check the spare tyres, oil, tool kits and such. Ensure the tools / spares are sufficient for the nature of the trip.
  • Carry a spare door key on the exterior of the vehicle – spare keys are not useful stored at home if you are in northern Zimbabwe. Keep the spare remote / immobiliser / gear-lock key (or anything else needed to drive the vehicle) hidden in the upholstery of the vehicle. Seal a separate door key (no electronics) in a tough plastic bag and secure it in a hidden but accessible place on the vehicle, e.g. in a rear tail light or cable-tied into a hole in the chassis.
  • Ensure that all the necessary stickers are put on the vehicle and trailer.
    • ZA sticker for both the vehicle and the trailer
    • A red and a white T-sticker for the trailer
    • Two white reflector tapes for the front of the vehicle
    • Two red reflector tapes for the back of the vehicle.
    • FUEL. Check on the availability of fuel at the destination and determine if fuel needs to be carried.
      • Calculate the approximate volume of fuel need, add a safety margin, and plan enough jerry cans.
      • Check if there are border restrictions or levies on fuel.
      • Always plan to pack the jerry cans in the trailer or bakkie bin, and not in the vehicle with the passengers.


  1. 2.    Vehicle Papers


Compile all the follow documents for both the vehicle AND trailer:

  • Letters of permission from the owner(s) for the use of the vehicle or trailer (even if the owner is on the trip, in case he is unable to return with the group, e.g. a medical emergency).
  • The original or a certified copy of the registration papers.
  • If the vehicle is still being financed, a letter from the financing institution that gives permission for the vehicle to travel outside of the RSA.
  • Certified copies of the vehicle and trailer owner’s ID documents.


NB: It is safest to have two certified copies of these documents and keep the second set in a separate envelope, stored under a carpet in the vehicle, in case the first set is lost or stolen. This will save a huge amount of time in trying to have copies sent up from RSA if they are lost.



  1. 3.    Insurance for vehicles / trailers
  • Ensure that the vehicle insurance covers all the drivers (check if there is an issue with drivers <25 years old).
  • Check if the excess increases over the border.
  • Have a discussion upfront with the owner(s) about who will pay for the excess in case of accidental damage, or in the event of mechanical damage to the vehicle, e.g. the engine overheats and requires an expensive over-haul. Either the owner must cover these expenses willingly, or the church should pay. Should either of these options not be possible, it may be better not to take the vehicle. Note: it can be advisable to have a ‘policy’ of only taking a vehicle if the owner is going on the trip – this can avoid difficult relational problems in case of an accident.
  • Check if 3rdParty Insurance is needed (e.g. for Zimbabwe) or if it is covered by a South African policy. It is generally possible to purchase the third party insurance at the border (outside RSA) but it does save time if it is bought beforehand at any AA motor shop. You will need the following information:
    • The name and physical address of the vehicle’s owner
    • The name and physical address of the person with whom you will be staying in the country.


  1. 4.    Other paperwork
  • It is advisable to have copies of the passport of each person on the trip
  • Prepare a letter of intent from your relevant church explaining the purpose of the trip.
  • At the border you may be asked to produce till slips / invoices to confirm the value of the groceries / food parcels you are carrying (particularly for Zim).   So keep your till slips if you are taking your own food parcels into Zim.
  • Check if an international driver’s licence is needed. This is generally not the case for SADC countries. An international driver’s licence can be obtained from the AA for about R120.
  • Take a few pieces of carbon paper and several spare black pens.


Keep all your documentation in one flip-file or zip folder to facilitate the process at the border posts. Also ensure that this file is within the driver’s reach for in case you are stopped at any roadblocks.

[It may be useful to advise all team members, as a long-term preparation for travel, to have all their important documents (ID, passports, driver’s licences, etc) scanned in colour into pdf format and then save them onto a free storage website. They will thus be able to access and print copies of the documents in case of loss. This will facilitate the process of reporting loss at the embassy.]


  1. 5.    Accommodation and subsistence
  • Plan for any overnight accommodation for during the travel. Discuss with the team the affordability of paid accommodation. Where relationships exist, rather request assistance from other local
  • Find out what accommodation will be available for you when you reach your destination and prepare accordingly.
  • If appropriate, plan that you have enough food for your team from South Africa while you are being hosted as we don’t want to be a burden to a local family. Although unlikely to be asked for food it will be a blessing to able to provide supplies for the hosting family.
  • Check if the local water is drinkable and plan to take drinking water if needed. In a hot climate, each person should have at least 4-5 litres of fluid per day for drinking and cooking.
  • Ensure you know how to get to your destination, or arrangement to meet a local leader at a specific point to be led on site.


  1. 6.    Ministry requirements

Plan what sort of ministry your team will be involved in. Discuss this with local leaders and ensure you are equipped to do this. If open-air or large meetings are anticipated, check that there will be adequate sound projection equipment. It may be necessary to take equipment such as amps, microphones, speakers and a small generator.


  1. 7.    Finances and cash

Plan the cash requirements of the trip, considering the following issues:

  • Discuss upfront with the team the structure of finances. Decide how the costs will be split between the church and the team members (e.g. the church may pay for the fuel and the members pay for all else).
  • Ensure there is enough cash for fuel and tolls (note that a garage card will generally not be accepted outside of RSA). Check the fuel price in the destination country and estimate the likely requirement.
  • If using a garage card in RSA, ensure the credit limit or balance is sufficient for the trip.
  • Check the border fee requirements. There are normally various tolls, fees and other strange costs that add up quite quickly.
  • LTT / GTT registration, accommodation and subsistence costs per person.
  • Plan to be generous with hosts and offerings during the ministry time.
  • Ask God if he wants you to bless a local church with a specific financial (or other) gift. Plan for this so you are not caught unprepared.
  • Ensure each team member has sufficient cash to meet their minimum requirements.
  • Appoint one person to be in charge of trip finances, petty cash, receipts etc.
  • If the petty cash is substantial, then split it between two or more trustworthy people for safety.
  • Check on how best to pay for things locally and, if you need to change money into the local currency, know the exchange rate to avoid being cheated. Check if it is illegal to change money outside of recognised institutions.
  • Carry a range of small denominations for small purchases. Don’t expect to get change from a high denomination from a street vendor.



  1. 8.    Medical
  • Check if there are any specific medical issues at the destination, such as malaria or Yellow Fever. Ensure each team member has considered their options to protect themselves.
  • Ensure there is a group medical kit sufficient to cover basic needs and emergencies (see attached checklist for a complete medical kit).
  • Ensure team members have any personal medications.


  1. 9.    Communications and emergency planning
  • Arrange for a cell phone to be connected to international roaming, at least for the duration of the trip.
  • The team leader should think in advance how they will cope with emergency situations; whether it is an accident, medical emergency or a difficult policeman demanding bribes at a road-block. Forward planning makes a huge difference in such cases.
  • Compile a list of the names of each team member, with ID and passport numbers, and the name and details of people to contact in case of emergency.


  1. 10.  Team briefing

The team leader should take time to plan a thorough briefing for the members, especially if there are inexperienced people. Topics to cover include:

  • The reason for the trip, goals and specific objectives.
  • Trip finances, including what will be expected financially from each member.
  • Expected behaviour in terms of the local culture – e.g. dress code.
  • Accommodation – what can they expect and how to prepare for it.
  • Expected spiritual input and preaching – who will do what, and how to prepare for this.
  • Driver behaviour (adhering to speed limits and safety), including ‘the driver pays for any speeding fines’.


  1. 11.   Church communication


Plan any feedback to your local church from the start.

  • Anticipate what sort of message you may want to bring back from the churches that are receiving the mission.
  • Plan for multi-media such as a video recording of a church leader being interviewed about his experiences of hosting the mission.
  • Think about what footage or photographs will make an encouraging presentation on return.


  1. 12.  Taking a family on a trip


It is a great idea to involve whole families in mission trips, where possible and appropriate. Depending on the age of the kids, the planning takes on a whole new meaning. Some pointers include:


  • Ensure they know how to behave during a meeting. Use your local meetings as a training ground to set them up for success.
  • Start them on closer and shorter trips until they have learnt to travel well.
  • Don’t push them past reasonable boundaries – don’t expect them to stay still throughout an all-day meeting.
  • Involve them spiritually by asking them to pray, and teach them to greet and encourage people with the basics of the faith.
  • Plan activities for them during meetings, with new toys that are interesting to them. However, expect the local kids to be fascinated by these and want to be involved.
  • Teach the kids in advance of trips on what is expected in other cultures. It is very helpful to train them in a broad range of food types so they are not shocked with what is presented to them by a generous host.
  • Persevere through failure or let-down – the goal is to pass the vision to the next generation over the long-run.

At the border post:


  • Remember you are an ambassador for Christ and all your behaviour must convey this privilege.
  • Always remain calm and patient.
  • Never voice frustration or irritation.
  • Always keep your tone of voice polite and friendly.
  • Never pay bribes and be extremely cautious of using ‘helpers’ or runners to do your paperwork for you. Never hand over your passport or other important papers to a stranger offering ‘help’.
  • If the situation becomes difficult or ‘impossible’, spend some time in prayer as a team. It is amazing how many times God has overcome impossible border administration systems.


  1. 1.    Leaving RSA – complete the following forms:
  • Ensure all members’ passports are stamped out.
  • The vehicle temporary export form for both the vehicle and trailer.
  • SARS “Passengers Declaration – Outwards” form.   Each passenger should complete such a form. You may be asked to produce the completed form at the last checkpoint before leaving South Africa.


  • SARS “Registration of goods for re-importation” if applicable.   Cameras, cell phones etc. that are taken out of the country and brought in again upon return are normally declared on this form. The original, top copy is to be handed in at Customs when leaving South Africa and the bottom copy must be handed in at Customs again when you return.


  1. 2.    Entering the destination border (will differ per country)
  • Find secure parking and ensure all windows and doors are properly locked. It may be best to have a team member stay with the vehicle if you feel the situation warrants it.
  • Pay any toll fees and obtain the ‘gate pass’ which will be needed to exit the border gate.
  • Pay for 3rd party insurance if needed.
  • Clear immigration and have all passports stamped and visas checked.
  • Clear customs and declare the vehicle (obtain any permits needed to drive the vehicle, e.g. the TIP in Zim)
  • For a detailed account of crossing Beitbridge borderpost, please see the Urban Life Church handout.


Driving in the destination country

  • Keep to the speed limits, especially wherever the speed limit drops to 80 km / h or 60 km / h.
  • If fined, always request a receipt. Offer to drive to local police station to pay if the officer can’t provide receipts. Try to avoid handing over any passport or driver’s licence as you won’t get it back without paying.
  • Look out for potholes, donkeys and goats.
  • Try to avoid driving at night because conditions are not very safe.   There are numerous pedestrians, animals, and vehicles that aren’t roadworthy etc.
  • Be aware of frequent roadblocks and always remain friendly. NEVER get involved with bribery – it compromises spiritual authority and can open you to even worse situations. Rather play dumb if the officer starts making suggestions about a bribe, and even state that you are there on church business and that it compromises your faith (don’t do this in an Islamic country!). In most instances, patience, friendly conversation and a smile will get your through after about 20 minutes.
  • Try to draw as little attention as possible. It is difficult being white and driving with SA registered vehicles, but try not to attract any extra attention.
  • Do not make jokes with people about the politics, and be aware that the local authorities watch you. Many large gatherings, such as church meetings, may be monitored by undercover police.


After the mission

  1. Return any borrowed vehicles in a condition better than you received them:
  2. Invite the team members for a de-briefing meal to chat over their experiences. Use this time to give specific encouragement and feedback and to re-kindle relationships.
  3. Give specific feedback to the local congregation, using multi-media and personal testimony from the team members. This is useful to keep the vision of the apostolic alive in the church.
  • Full fuel tank.
  • Professionally cleaned and tyres balanced.
  • Repair any damage (e.g. windscreen chips, flat tyres).