Frequently Asked Questions

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Find information about general mission trip questions and required background checks below. If you have additional questions, call our office at 508-242-9622 or email missiontrips@mustardseed.com.

What can I expect from a mission trip to Mustard Seed Communities?

Mustard Seed Communities has hosted short term mission trips since 1993. We have established a highly developed program for volunteers which is based upon meaningful interaction with our children; tangible work projects; and participation in an inclusive Christian community. Mustard Seed Communities’ mission program exposes volunteers to the reality of poverty in the developing world and is deeply grounded in spirituality. Our Catholic based program provides opportunities for daily prayer, adoration, and reflection while at the same time maintains an ecumenical approach. We hope that while you’re on a mission trip, you will think of the experience as a retreat – you are getting away from the convenience of home, hot showers, electronics and your everyday life so that you can care for the MSC children. Be present for them, the staff and your fellow mission volunteers.

What is life like on a mission trip with MSC?

Every day brings an opportunity to rise early and spend time with the children whether it is to help them or to simply be in their presence. Throughout your trip, you will build community within your team and with the staff and children of Mustard Seed Communities. Each day is filled with time to reflect, share, and pray. You will also get the opportunity to experience the culture and enjoy a “day out” in the local community.

Mustard Seed Communities cares for children who are disabled, forgotten, abandoned, and marginalized. Our children reflect the image and likeness of God just as you do. So when you look into a child’s face or feel the gentle touch of a child’s hand, know that God is also touching you and looking at you through their eyes. They in turn are seeing you for who you really are and God’s presence in you. Keep your mind and heart open. That is the best way to ensure that you have a fulfilling mission experience. Be present and willing to learn from the children and those you meet.

Read more about what A Day in the Life of a MSC Mission Volunteer looks like.

What projects will my group work on?

First and foremost, all groups will have scheduled time to interact and play with the children. Interaction with the children is more important than finishing a project. Each group will also have a work project that may include light construction, painting, farming, or landscaping. The Mission Program Manager will be able to give you an idea of the project(s) your group will be doing as your trip approaches.

Who participates in Mustard Seed Communities’ mission trips?

Mission trips are available to anyone who is at least 15 years old and willing to step outside of their comfort zone to follow God’s call. Our trips are open to people of all faith denominations. Mission groups can be from colleges, high schools, parishes, and more. No prior experience is needed. Many MSC mission volunteers have never tried anything like this before.

What safety measures are in place to protect mission volunteers?

The safety and security of mission volunteers is Mustard Seed Communities' top priority. Each mission group is accompanied by an experienced driver and a Mustard Seed Communities mission representative when traveling outside of Mustard Seed's property. The mission representatives, who are full-time employees of Mustard Seed Communities, supervise all volunteer activities and stays with the mission group throughout the day and evening. The mission representatives are native to the MSC country in which they work, and they are very familiar with the culture and customs. Regardless of location, all mission volunteers stay in onsite housing at Mustard Seed Communities. All homes are secured, gated, and have security 24 hours a day. Mustard Seed Communities has been operating safe and fulfilling mission trips overseas for more than twenty years.

What is the financial commitment to participate in a mission trip?

We require all mission volunteers to raise a minimum of $950.00 per person excluding airfare. Many groups and individuals set goals that far exceed the minimum requirement. Mustard Seed Communities provides fundraising ideas, methods and materials that will help you reach and surpass your goals. Please contact us any time for support in your fundraising efforts.

How do I book a mission trip?

Reserve a week for your mission trip online.  A deposit of $500 is required to reserve the mission trip date for your group. The deposit is applied to your group’s total fundraising commitment. You can also book a trip by calling 508-242-9622 or email missiontrips@mustardseed.com.

Does MSC have long-term Volunteer opportunities?

No, at this time we unfortunately do not have the infrastructure to support individuals who wish to serve MSC in any capacity outside of the short-term group-based mission program. For individuals without a group, please see the question below regarding our annual open mission trips. 

I do not have a group. Can I still go on a mission trip with MSC?

MSC typically organizes one or two alumni/open mission trips per year to Jamaica. These trips are led by a veteran mission trip leader and are open to individual volunteers. Dates and offerings vary each year, so please contact our office to inquire about details at 508-242-9622.

What is Mustard Seed's policy on background checks?

Mustard Seed Communities is fully committed to ensuring the safety of the most vulnerable population to whom the organization ministers.

Criminal background checks are one of the strategies used to ensure the safety of the residents in our care. Mustard Seed Communities policy is to conduct criminal background checks on all volunteers over the age of 18 at the time of registration and to repeat them annually should the volunteer travel again after a year. 

You will receive an email from The Advocates at Sterling Volunteers within a few days of registering for a mission trip with your invitation to complete your background screening. We do ask that you complete this important component of registration as soon as possible.

How do new volunteers initiate a background check?

The process begins when you register as a volunteer. Upon completion an email will be sent with an invitation to conduct your background screening. You should see the email within 72 hours of completing your registration from The Advocates at Sterling Volunteers. We do ask that you complete this important component of registration as soon as possible.

I’ve volunteered in the past and didn’t need to complete a background check? Why do I need to complete a check now?

Thank you for your continued service to Mustard Seed. We now require volunteers to complete a background check annually. Team leaders are asked to partner with MSC to ensure all team members over 18 complete a background screen. If a volunteer does not complete this screen, they will not be allowed to travel.

How much does a background check cost?

$17.50 annually plus any applicable court fees. This fee is not part of the $950 fundraising commitment. Due to record-keeping fees, certain counties in the U.S. may be subject to additional fees.

How long does a background check take?

You’ll spend a few minutes completing an online form to get your check started. We often hear back from our background check agency within 24 hours.

Are you checking my credit? Will this impact my credit rating?

No. We do not check financial information or credit for any of our volunteers. We are only doing a criminal background check.

May I provide a previous background check or one from another organization/school?

No. Background checks vary by agency, so our volunteers need to go through our process. 

Do I need to provide my Social Security Number?

Yes. Protecting our member’s personal information is very important to MSC. Our vendor, Sterling Volunteers, provides a secure online encrypted process for submitting your information. MSC does not see or store your Social Security number and Sterling Volunteers only stores the last four digits. We are confident that there is little to no risk to you in the online background check process.

What could exclude me from volunteering with MSC?

Mustard Seed Communities cannot work with an adult who has been convicted of, has pleaded guilty to, has received adjudication for, or has pleaded no contest to the following crimes:

Automatic Disqualification

  • Registered Sex Offender
  • Crimes against children
  • Felony offenses against persons
  • Felony offenses against a family member
  • Crimes defined as public indecency
  • Crimes involving the use of weapons
  • Any violent crime
  • Any felony drug-related offense
  • Any felony conviction within the five (5) year period preceding the background check
  • Residing on the same premises as a registered sex

Possible Disqualification

For all other criminal offenses, or felony convictions older than the five-year period, Mustard Seed Communities shall review the applicant’s situation on a case-by-case basis. The decision whether to allow service within Mustard Seed’s discretion, and factors to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The nature and severity of the criminal conduct
  • The position for which the person seeks to volunteer
  • The length of time since the criminal conduct occurred
  • The circumstances under which the crime was committed
  • The degree of rehabilitation
  • The likelihood that the person will commit the crime again
  • The number of crimes committed by the prospective volunteer

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