Many Christian pragmatists suggest that short-term mission projects are a waste of resources. After all, it costs a lot of money to send a group of teenagers to Costa Rica for a week.
What these well-meaning Christians don’t realize, however, is that it is impossible to calculate the value of short-term missions in God’s economy. Who knows what fruit God will cause to grow as His people are faithful to the Great Commission?
As a former missionary, I can attest to the fact that short-term teams carried out vital ministries which never would have happened otherwise. The long-term missionary simply doesn’t have the time to do everything that needs doing. Ministries like Vacation Bible School, Teaching English as a Second Language, building projects and health clinics can provide a service to the community which jump-starts relationships that the long-term missionary will build upon.
The Lord frequently uses short-term missions exposure to call people into longer-term service. That was the case for my husband. The Lord used a summer missions trip to Croatia when he was 18 to lead him to full-time missions after his college graduation. Short-term missionaries often come home with their eyes opened to the needs of the world, a renewed zeal for the Gospel, and more generous hearts for giving.
And what about the money? The truth is, short-term missions mobilizes people to give. Often, these people are giving over-and-above their normal tithe to help the short-term missionary. Most of the funds raised for short-term missions are not being taken from other ministries. They never would have been given at all, were it not for the excitement of getting involved in a friend’s short-term mission project.
Go on a short-term mission trip yourself, if you possibly can. This summer, many churches will send out short-term missionaries. Do give generously toward their support, and pray that the Lord will use them mightily. Pray also that He will use their short-term missions experience to call them to service in His harvest field long-term.
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