A guest blog written by Laney Gibney, who traveled to Africa this summer with Calvary’s mission partner, Man Up and Go!
Short term mission trips. What is the purpose of them?
Well, I think the answer to that question might be different depending on who is answering it. I have been on 4 international short term mission trips with the most recent being a two week stint in Ethiopia and Uganda with the organization ManUp and Go. Each has had a different purpose, different country, and different impact on my life. Surely, the core purpose of any mission work is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all nations, but how do we align a two week trip with one of the most important commands Jesus gave to us in Matthew 28– “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you”.
Discipleship is a long-term process. Teaching all things that Jesus commands takes more than two weeks. So how can you have a long-term impact for the Kingdom in a short term trip?
Establishing and developing relationships is the key to making a long term impact in a person’s life, whether local or abroad. But let me throw a twist into our commonly-thought-of international missions’ relationships. I could write pages on the widows and orphans I was able to love on, pray over, and cry with in a place of desperation for their souls. But I want to focus on a relationship that I dare say is more important (and has more impact) that any other international relationship. If you want to make a long-term impact with the short time you have, invest in the man or woman of God who He has placed in that community long-term. From my experience in Ethiopia, that looks like an American woman and her Ethiopian husband who spend their days on the city trash dump ministering to those starving and in need. In Uganda, that looks like the Ugandan Pastor and his wife whose faith in the Lord has led them to converting Muslim villages into God-fearing brothers and sisters. The Gospel is spreading like a wildfire in these places because the locals believe in the call of God on their lives to save their own people.
I was challenged by God’s voice telling me it is not my job to bring my American Jesus to ends of the earth. With an open heart and mind, I witnessed the Spirit of God as described in the book of Acts. Power, faithfulness, provision, and boldness overflowed from the local men and women who are planted in those communities year round.
Investing in that relationship during the mission trip looks like encouraging them face to face. Laying hands on them and praying for the Spirit’s power in their ministries. Serving in their ministries and communities where they see fit. Investing in that relationship once back on American soil looks like praying for them continuously. Financially supporting their ministries that solely depend on donations from the Church. Keeping in contact with them via social media or email.
There is a place in the Church for short term mission trips. It is possible to have a long term impact, make disciples in other nations, and teach people to observe everything that Jesus said. Remember the purpose that our Savior commissioned us with, and do it for the glory of God.
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