Know your purpose. Be flexible. Coordinate with local churches and missionaries. These are among the suggestions offered by trip coordinators.
By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle
Short-term mission trips have taken Paula Harrington and her family to disaster zones in the U.S. and poor communities in Third World countries.
“We have cleaned up after tornadoes, done Vacation Bible Schools on the streets, fed others, cleaned yards and homes and played with kids,” said Harrington, a member of the Lone Oak Church of Christ in Paducah, Ky. “Every time the result was learning to serve and bless our neighbors. God allows us to see the big picture on mission trips.”
The image that sticks with him: “I spent the day working with a lady in the dump, helping her dig through trash, sort trash and carry things she could recycle to sell for money for her family. I was so glad when the day was over, and I could get out of those nasty clothes and take a shower. It hit me while I was cleaning up that the lady would rise early in the morning, put back on her filthy clothes and have to do it again.”
Jana Miller, a missionary in Zambia, said short-term mission trips to Mexico helped nurture her love for mission work.
“My levels of agreement with short-term missions vary based on the type of trip,” said Miller, who is sponsored by the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma. “Are you going to encourage a missionary? Sharing medical or other specialized skills? Learning from a missionary about what it means to live and serve in a different place?
“I think all of those are worthy reasons for shorter-term missions,” she added. “I also think there are times when the money could be used more beneficially to create local, short-term jobs surrounding the projects and special programs outside groups traditionally lead.”
Harrington, Morgan and Miller were among 75 trip coordinators and church leaders who responded to a survey by The Christian Chronicle.
Based on all the responses, here are 11 tips for making short-term mission work successful:
This story appears in the September 2018 edition of The Christian Chronicle.
Related column: This is what short-term mission trips are really all about: Hint: It’s not the construction projects. Think relationships.