The Impact of Short Term Missions:
(from the viewpoint of Amanda 😉 )
Disclaimer: I’m not sure I took a SINGLE one of these photos. Thanks to the awesome 2017 Mission team members. 🙂
Some often say, why travel THAT far and spend that much money for such a short period of time?
Sometimes that little point in itself causes huge impact in the person receiving services on short term missions. “I can’t even believe a group of teenagers took a week out of their summer to come work on my house. And they PAID to do it.”. or ” I can’t believe an adult took vacation and paid to come here. To help me. To tell me about Jesus”.
There is definitely controversy in the christian community over short term missions. Why do we put so much money into this? For something that seems so small? I hope this post explains a little of that.
We go to serve.
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. John 10:12-13
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
I recently heard something that gave me so much security in my job satisfaction. Nursing is “people helping people”. Sometimes when my work gets really hard, I remember that phrase. It gives me so much purpose.
But often we don’t. Often the homeowners won’t come out of their home. Or they’re busy at work. Or they’re sick in the hospital. But I have zero doubt that when we built that ramp or roof in Christ’s name, His spirit is there. And when they come home and see those things, I think they represent Christ, his love, his hope, and his grace.
We’re all in training…
When God said to go make disciples, I don’t believe that meant for everyone to travel to tell people about Jesus. I also don’t believe that meant for people to just tell people about Jesus on these short term trips. We are to always, in the day to day, be making disciples. But this isn’t easy, right? We get caught up in the motions, negativity, etc. I feel called into nursing but I more often than not get there and pray for 7 pm, wishing away a day of opportunity.
I talk a lot about fitness on here…So here I want to talk about spiritual fitness. Short term missions also serves as spiritual training for those going.
When you go on one of these trips, you’re often stripped from all of your ‘comforts’. Your schedule, your bed, your normal showers, your personal space (lol), your definition of clean,…(I know there are people who will laugh at this….)
You’re stripped of your habits. Do I go to the gym every morning on a mission trip? Not at all. Not ever. Do I eat many vegetables? Nope. Do I meal plan? Heck no. Does god always provide? YES.
On this mission trip to Georgia (and many other that I’ve been on), we had time for devotionals. We had quiet. Time set aside without distraction to pray, read scripture, and worship.
We worshiped every night. We debriefed with our group. Some confessed their struggles. We prayed for people we came in contact with, as a group. We prayed before every meal. Guys, what a way to get close to the Lord. What a way to be building those muscles for your spiritual fitness.
…for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
And in some ways, we wish the every day could be like that, right? But we’re called to more. We’re called to share this with others, not hold onto it for ourselves. By taking 7 days to be away from worldly things, to fellowship with fellow believers, we get to seek Jesus, strengthen our relationships with each other and with Christ, and practice those daily habits that are crucial in the day to day life of the real world.
How short term missions affect ME, personally.
I started going on these trips as a youth. In high school, it was a time to do my good deed for Christ. To hang out with my friends. Every year, Christ affected me and did a work in me.
Every year I understood more and more how big my God was. Every year I learned how relational and personal my god was. I saw my friends get saved. I saw people literally stand up after being on their knees, walking a little lighter because they gave their chains to Christ. I myself, have walked a bit lighter and certainly stronger, largely due to the spiritual strengthening that happened through short term missions.
I’ve built strong, faithful friendships and relationships with mentors.
I’ve learned to seek the Lord even deeper.
I’ve allowed the Lord to use me in ways I didn’t know possible.
When you strip away these things and let the Lord just use you, phew.
Personally, he stripped away vanity, obsession with time and schedule. I used to get anxious on mission trips, not fully allowing myself to be used or to be changed because of how focused I was on maintaining my daily agenda and habits. I’m now learning (I say this because we all still have things to work on 😉 ) to leave and fully submit to what he has for me.
God has used these trips to remind me of what is eternal. Because we ALL have those things in life that slip in front of Jesus, right? I want to go on these trips and put these ‘distractions’ away so I can fully be used and changed. But I also want to come home and live my daily life with them in their appropriate place. I want to leave my trip spiritually stronger, spiritually fit, and enter the day to day with the two goals: seek Jesus, love others.
I can say that every short term mission trip has changed me in one way or another. Sometimes its really small changes, that over 12 years become monumental.
I hope to keep going and going.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14