Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Some words on short-term missions
Ever since we came in the mission field, we had lost count on how many short-term missionaries both individuals and teams we have received and hosted in our house. Short-term missionaries are huge blessing to us in several ways.
First, they have been a source of encouragement to missionaries on the field. Talking with people who speak the same language and from the same culture is indeed a big encouragement.
Second, they have been a source of encouragement to the national church. National churches on the mission fields are usually small and struggling. They feel alone and isolated. Success stories of big churches from all over the world provide inspiration knowing that the belong to the world wide body of Christ.
Third, short-termers have been able to gain greater vision for the missionary enterprise. Being in the field witnessing how career missionaries are working make them envision the kind of ministry they can do on the field.
Fourth, short-term workers have been able to partner with long-term missionaries in many different kinds of ministries. Short-termers have assisted career missionaries in building projects, evangelism, teaching in Bible schools, agricultural projects, etc.
Although short-term missionaries have been a blessing, there are some things they need to remember.
First, they need to realize that their main purpose in going overseas is not to be tourists. They need to think carefully how to maximize their time doing ministry. They should minimize unnecessary travel time and unlike tourists, they should show authentic love for the locals. They should not criticize the local culture--their language, food and the way they do things.
Second, short termers need to realize that missionaries have their own work to do. Missionaries are not meant to be tour guides, or negotiators for bargains in the local shops and marketplaces. They need to talk with the host about their plans ahead of time so they can arrange their schedule.
Third, they need to realize they are not there to question and argue with the career missionary with regards to the way they do their ministry. They should not assume that they know more than the people on the field just because the have more education and training. They need to remember that the missionaries have been on the field longer than them.
Fifth, they need to realize that most career missionaries have limited financial resources. They should not burden their host to spend for their housing and food. They should share with the expenses they accrued during their stay.
Sixth, they should not act as visitors waiting to be served and entertained by their host. They should also do house chores like cook breakfast, lunch and dinner or help in the cleaning of the house and the ground.
Finally, short-term missionaries need to realize that God may be calling them to long-term missionary service. While more and more people are going on short-term missionary trips, fewer and fewer individuals seem to be accepting the call to enter into career missionary work.
The ideas come from an article in the old periodical entitled Evangelical Missions Quarterly written by Jim Lo.