The big challenge of short term missions is reflected in the term itself. It is short. What can and should be done in a short period of time in a nation to make a lasting impact?
Another question that is frequently asked – am I qualified to make a difference?
Being called by God for a specific assignment is very humbling. We don’t want to mess up His plan. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves trying to achieve something we don’t have the ability or expertise to do.
Setting a realistic objective helps to eliminate the initial concerns. God chose you because He has determined that your life experience, your gifts, your story are going to be useful for this place and time. Do you lead a Bible study in your church? Do you enjoy playing with children? Do you have a beautiful voice, play instruments, love to worship? These natural gifts and affinities will be used during your time in the country. From the moment you have felt the call start asking God what is the subject that He wants you to prepare to teach on, what songs you should rehearse, etc. Always be prepared to share a personal testimony. We all have many experiences in our lives of God’s favor, provision, deliverance, rescue – these are your best tools to introduce someone to Jesus. Pray and seek which story you should share during the trip. You may not know all the people you will encounter on your journey but God does. He prepares divine appointments for us – if you consult Him in advance, He will help you be prepared.
In Luke 10:1 Jesus had several practical reasons for sending His disciples in teams.
1. The power of the message you proclaim on the mission field is solidified by having at least one more person who is an agreement. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 Cor 13:1
2. Being able to agree in prayer with at least one other person creates God’s presence and activates His answer. “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20
The power of being a team is something that we have witnessed through the decades of doing missions work. It creates a pool of multiple talents, personalities, ages groups and makes us relevant an appealing to a larger segment of the local population. It keeps each person challenged to maintain the focus of big vision and willingness to sacrifice personal needs for the sake of the success of the entire team. In short, it creates a favorable environment for God to move and perfects the vessels that he has chosen to use. The people who have traveled with WMA missions teams make life long friendships during the trip because the desire to spread the Gospel is an excellent common ground for a lasting quality relationship.
An important aspect in setting your objectives is recognizing that in missions work there will be a time to sow and a time to reap. The first should always the objective of a successful missions trip. The second is more of a reward that God grants us to encourage us to continue.
“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:35-38
Reaping is rewarding, sowing is done by faith. The fruit of your sowing may become someone else’s reward, but the Lord of the Harvest rejoices over both – the sower and the reaper.
Three key elements to prepare for your mission trip are:
3. Enlisting partners to cover you and your mission in prayer