The Impact of Short-Term Missions
* Editor's note: This article was originally written for Crossroads, Journey Missions' newsletter*
One trip can make a huge impact
My first short-term mission experience is unforgettable! In 1978 I was 22 years old and ready to embark on my first adventure outside of the USA. God had already placed on my heart the certainty that He wanted me to serve Him in global missions. With a heart full of expectations, I boarded the plane for Brazil and entered a new world that would one day become my home and mission field for life. I wanted to learn everything I could in those six weeks overseas. Although my limited knowledge of Portuguese left me curious about many things happening around me, I felt very welcomed and enjoyed all the experiences with missionaries and nationals. Immersed in a new culture and surrounded by people speaking a different language, I needed to depend on the Lord for daily guidance and grace.
Turn the clock forward forty plus years. That first short-term missionary experience resulted in a lifetime of missionary service. During these years we have received many short-term mission groups. Our motto for these volunteers has been “Work Hard, Pray Hard, Play Hard.” We encourage participants to give of themselves whole-heartedly, to trust God amid new (and sometimes scary) experiences, and to make sure they have a great time!
A tool for overseas ministry
Short-term mission trips can serve as a great tool for overseas ministry, benefitting both the ones going as well as the ones receiving. Journey Missions teams introduce participants to global missions and the life of a missionary. They build relationships with people in another culture while learning the joys of serving. They connect stateside congregations to mission opportunities abroad.
Although concrete results are often hard to measure, those of us on the receiving end have sensed that the encouragement and impetus of short-term groups have been beneficial. Our family has been richly blessed by volunteers who came to help with homeschooling when our kids were young. Other groups and individuals have helped us with construction projects. One time we had the privilege of receiving the girls’ choir from Arlington, WA. They came prepared to minister through song and testimony. Many of the young people who came on short-term experiences had a big impact on our children, serving as role models and helping them want to live their lives in service for the Lord.
Short-term ministry. Long-term benefits.
Perhaps the greatest long-term benefits of the Journey Missions program are seen in the transformation of those who offer their time and talents to serve for a short time on the field. In stretching beyond comfort zones as they humbly trust God and serve in practical ways, “short-termers” grow and are challenged in new ways of faith and service.
We welcome young and old alike to visit the mission field in order to get a personal experience with the global church. We hope that those who have participated in short-term mission experiences will continue to fulfill the Great Commission as they pray for missions, financially support missions, promote missions, and consider God’s call to be a missionary.
-Becky Abel, AFLC Missionary in Brazil