Short Term Missions: What I learned


Churches all over the states are gearing up for short term mission trips both abroad and at home. 2017 may be your year to go. Does the thought of going on such a trip excite you or scare you? If you have never been abroad may I suggest you start with a short term mission trip on your own turf.

My friend Diane, who now lives in New Zealand, went as a missionary to Nepal for eight years, definitely not a short term assignment. Though I admired her for her obedience and dedication I have never desired to become a full time missionary in the traditional sense. She worked high up in the mountains of Nepal as a midwife come missionary and fell in love with the people of that country.

We are not all called to full time missionary work abroad but we are all called to “Go into all the world and preach the good news.” (Mark 16:15 NIV).  These days we have the opportunity to go on short term missionary trips at home or abroad. I have been on two short term missions abroad. First to Guatemala and the second to Haiti and this is what I learned from them.

A Privilege : It is an honor and a privilege to take the good news of God’s love to others whether abroad or in our home country.

Be Humble: Just because we have the good news does not make us superior, we were once in need of hearing about the saving grace of Jesus. We are redeemed not superior so get rid of the pride of thinking yourself better than the people you are ministering to.

Die to Self: You will be going as a team, there will be no place for elevated egos.  Listen to the leader of the group and follow his/her instructions. If you have a problem with a member of the team sort it out BEFORE you go otherwise it will become a problem during the trip. Strife and division among team members will be felt by the people of your host country.

Just Swallow: Depending on the country you go to you may be offered strange looking and/or smelling foods. Smile and swallow the food, don’t offend your host. Now if you are allergic to certain foods or have a medical condition preventing you or you just can’t bring yourself to eat it politely turn down their offer and DO NOT show any form of disgust on your face. They are giving to you out of their need not their surplus.

Servant Heart: You are not there to be waited on but rather to serve, this is NOT a vacation. You may get a day at the end of the mission trip to unwind but until then serve, serve, serve.

Pick up Your Stuff: Whether you are staying in a cheap hotel, a hostel, a camp site, or in homes clean up your mess, leave the bathrooms and bedrooms clean. You may go out daily to minister but remember others are watching how you conduct yourself and you are ministering to them by your actions.

Grateful Attitude: Learn how to say “Thank You” in the language of the country you are visiting. You may not have the pronunciation correct but it will bless the people of the country that you tried.

Chill Out: Learn to laugh with the people not at the people. Sure they will do things different to you but remember you are the foreigner not them. You are strange to them, the way you dress, look and talk may cause a giggle or two from the kids…laugh with them.

Love & Prayer: Ask the Lord to give you love for the people before you go. Pray for them daily whether this is your first or fiftieth mission trip. Love is universal, it doesn’t need words. Love well and pray daily.

Sleep: Sounds obvious advice but make sure you get enough sleep. Set a reasonable cut off time to end conversations with your roommate and not stay up into the small hours talking about the days activities. My Guatemala trip roommate Camille, and I talked and laughed so much we had difficulty getting up in the mornings and were often late running into group devotions.

Dry Well: Planning, preparing and fundraising for the trip takes up a lot of time and effort. In the busyness don’t neglect to nurture yourself in the Lord, all you get from a dry well is an empty bucket. Drink and refresh daily from His living water so that out of you will flow God’s love to the people.

Photography: Take loads of photos of the group and the scenery, but always ask permission before taking a photo of someone in the host country, not everyone wants to be photographed. Respect their answer no matter how cute a photo you think it would make on Facebook or other social media. Be wise what you post on social media, that photo of the cute little boy or girl may go further than your friends and end up in a child sex trafficking circle. You are there to do good to the people, not put their child in potential harms way.

I hope you will consider a short term mission trip this year. The people you minister to will be blessed and so will you.

Where have you been or where would you like to go on a short term mission trip? Share in the comment box.

Until next week


Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance