It costs a lot to send short-term workers overseas. But is it worth it? Would the money be better spent on long-term mission workers or supporting national workers?
It is good, from time to time, to stop and consider the value of short-term mission in the 21st Century. Over the past 25 years we have been privileged to host hundreds of people on short-term mission trips. Why are we still committed to hosting short-term mission workers today? Because we are convinced that short-term mission changes lives.
Club 7-11 meets in a small church in North Wales every Wednesday night. The children sit in two teams – the Welsh Dragons and the Thai Geckos. Every term, world mission is part of their programme. This is because their leader, Angela, came out to Thailand on a short-term mission trip more than ten years ago. She helped run a programme for mission workers’ children at a conference. She went back home with a vision to see Welsh children learn about Thailand, about mission life and how to pray for Thai people. Her short-term trip led to a new generation of children learning how to pray faithfully for missions week by week.
Rory is a pastor in Australia who came out to Bangkok to help launch Langham preaching seminars. He used his skills to get alongside the Thai pastors, was able to help them in their sermon preparation and gave them confidence that they could preach faithfully from the Scriptures. As he chatted with the Thai pastors at the training conference about books they use for sermon prep, he realised that most of the 50 participants had no commentaries and few resources to help them prepare their weekly sermons.
Returning to Australia, Rory helped us to get the funding and copyright to publish God’s Big Picture in Thai.
We are now able to give this book to the preachers we are training each year. Short-term mission led to a long-term resource for the Thai church, through the generous giving of Australian brothers and sisters.
Everyone in our house loves it when Auntie Jo* comes to stay with us. When our kids were small, Auntie Jo would come regularly, with a summer team, a Christmas team, or on her own. She came with a desire to serve, to learn, to find out how to share the gospel cross-culturally. Eventually God called Auntie Jo to serve God, not in Thailand but in China. Her short-term mission trips with us were one of the small steps that have led her to serve long-term in a tough situation for the past ten years.
Ultimately we are convinced that short-term mission has long-term gains, raising up new generations of those who will pray, give and go for the sake the gospel.
*some names and identities have been changed
Johnny McClean serves in student ministry in Thailand