Whoever Said Short Term Trips Were A Waste of Time?
I’ve often heard it said that short term trips are a waste of time. Some claim that those on them just tend to “get in the way” by distracting long-term missionaries from their mission, whatever it might be. Others have said it’s an excuse for comfortable Christians to take a “vacation” while masquerading as mission focused individuals. Other people tend to make up other stories and excuses too.
I don’t buy it though.
I mean, sometimes it might be true. There are times I wonder with some of the trips I’ve heard about in my days. You’ve probably heard of those I’m talking about too — the ones that sound like wild and crazy adventures that might include a bit of evangelism (or might not). But by and large I think many times when we pull out the “waste of time” card, we do so erroneously.
So why do I say this?
The biggest reason is the overwhelming amount of evidence that lives are forever changed by short term teams. My church in the states, for example, has sent short term teams to Cape Town, South Africa the past 3 US summers (it’s actually winter then in Cape Town). On those trips we saw God move in many incredible ways. Lots of people professed HIS name for the first time. Many of those (and others) were healed of infirmities as serious as TB. Still others saw God move into their lives in ways they have never experienced before.
On those trips, we worked in a particular township called Masiphumelele (Masi for short). And if you are reading this blog, you likely know that my wife and I are currently in cross cultural church planting school called CPx which started a week ago. We were so encouraged upon arriving to find out that their are 3 people from Masi actually in CPx! One woman was led to Christ by a few women on our short term trip 2 summers ago. The other two also have less direct but ties none the less to our short term trips. And it’s so exciting to see that fruit matured and so encouraging to know that God can and will mightily use short term trips. They aren’t just sightseeing ventures for Christians and definitely will, when walked out in the right attitude, radically affect the kingdom.
There are other readily apparent benefits too. Short term trips can do wonders to encourage long term missionaries. They can allow for a more targeted, direct and focus mission that might normally take a long term team a while to get into. They often can allow long term workers to rest for a period (particularly in the case of the AIDs orphanage I worked with 3 summers ago). And they often allow for individuals with specialized skills to briefly provide services to those that might need them.
I’m definitely for short term mission trips and encourage everyone to go on one at some point in their life. If you are looking for a place to go — I heartily recommend Cape Town, especially after the World Cup finishes in July.