“Minä en puhu Suomea.” My opening gambit on my first short-term mission trip. Not a slum in Nairobi, or a village in India. Rather a balmy evening in a rural area of Finland, taking part in an evangelistic Tent Campaign. It took too long and was too expensive back then to travel further than Europe for a summer mission team.
Too many years on, I look back at that experience. It revolutionised me as I experienced a different language and culture - where cakes were the centre of all hospitality!! It helped me in my discipleship and made we want to pray for other nations. I was a brash young man who knew it all, and it certainly helped the process of change in me. Yet I have no idea if my involvement was helpful to anyone else, or made other lasting impact.
Today the whole short-term experience is massive, with many churches and agencies investing huge resources. In this age when ease of travel has made so much possible, do we ask ourselves the hard questions about the appropriateness of overseas short-term trips? Are we a real help or a hindrance? Do our teams realise that they will learn far more than they will give? Do our current one way trips from “here to there” just perpetuate the mistaken idea that mission is something that is done to people by better educated and better off Westerners? Are we listening to the voices on the receiving end of our mission efforts, no matter how uncomfortable that is?
We hope these short articles will give you food for thought as you consider involvement in short-term mission overseas and the potential effects, both positive and negative, on those we seek to serve alongside.
Director of Global Connections
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