Is There Value to Short-Term Missions?
For many of us we we hear someone say “short-term” missions or a missions trip, and we associate a negative feeling or thought with those phrases. We stereotype what they look like and the impact they could have on the “real” work of missions. We ask questions like: How helpful could this really be? What could short-term trips really accomplish in just a small period of time? Are they going to be helping or will they just hurt the work we are doing? If we are really honest with ourselves, we don’t see a great deal of value or need for short-term missions.
What if this way of thinking may not be all there is to short-term missions? What value can we find in short-term work, if any? I have one thought about the benefit of short-term missions.
I could share with you many stories, and some of them would be your story, that long-term missionaries have told me about how God led them into missions. For many missionaries it started with them first participating in a short-term trip. Many of us have committed to give our life to missions because of a short-term mission trip. Many of us realized the call of God on our lives when we stepped out of our comfort zones and went on a trip to serve in another country for two weeks. Many of us experienced how God could use us and wanted to use us. Many of us received a passion for a specific place, people group, or type of ministry because we said yes to going on a short-term mission trip.
For me personally, I look back and remember many of the short-term mission trips that I took as a teenager and younger adult. They were highly instrumental in shaping who I am today as a man, minister, and follower of Christ. I often think back to a specific short-term mission trip that I took 12 years ago when I clearly heard the call of God on my life to pursue Him and to live intentionally/missionally. I was sitting in a tent in the middle of the Panamanian jungle when I believe I heard the voice of God call to me. I was out of my comfort zone, working with local pastors, experiencing a different culture and language when I was awakened to the possibility that God not only could use me but wanted to use me to reach the nations with His Good News.
I understand that short-term missions – if not done correctly or are not closely tied to the long-term goals – can do more harm than good. But, I also believe that they can be a tool that helps fuel the fire of missions around the world! I have seen and experienced how God can use short- term missions as an on-ramp to a life of leading others in a growing relationship with Jesus while loving and serving them well.
Who is God calling today who will only encounter His purpose for their life through the experience of going on a short-term missions trip? Many, many more Kingdom workers, I believe!
By: Spanky Rouse, Mobilizer & Coach – Africa & Asia