A short-term mission trip is a group of Christians traveling to another location for the purpose of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many trips will participate in humanitarian aid also. For the purpose of this blog, I will be referring to trips that are 1-2 weeks in length and for people that are 55 and older.
Short term missions can be for 1 to 2 years and for any age. They can also be close to home or in any foreign country. The participants can choose to go on a trip with a missions organization, with a local church or on their own. The purpose usually includes at least one of the following and may include 2 or more.
- Preach the gospel. This can include any or all of the following: Evangelism, church planting and teaching to the body of Christ.
- Humanitarian aid. This can include the following: Feeding the poor, Building churches and houses, looking after orphans and widows, visiting those in prison and providing education. Jesus does command us to provide humanitarian aid as we read in Matthew 25:35-46.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
- Developmental aid. This kind of aid assists communities in areas of development. This kind of aid usually includes: building programs, education, agriculture techniques, building water wells etc. These should be long-term solutions to underlying socio-economic factors. These programs give short-term mission members a chance to develop long-term relationships with the communities they help.
Humanitarian and developmental aid is important. Jesus did command us to help the least of these. We must be careful to give them a hand up and not a hand out. Hand outs are important in times of crisis which can include disastrous storms, famine or war. At any other time, it’s a good idea to come alongside the community and provide a hand up.
For example, a hand up can be farm animals, agriculture tools and education, seeds and techniques for planting. Anything that can help the community become self-sustaining. Another idea includes helping them start a community bank in order for them to make microloans to people starting a business. We need to keep in mind whether we are helping or hurting the communities.
In many cultures around the world, the men are expected to take care of their families. However, in regions that have been hit by war, famine, disease and storms, there are many orphans and widows. Again, we are commanded to help these as seen in James: 1:27 NIV.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
- Fellowship, learning and encouragement. I really enjoyed reading and I learned a lot from the book, Helping without Hurting In Short Term Missions. The book really approached missions from a different viewpoint. It talks about how all of us are broken and we all contribute to poverty in this world. Basically, poverty is complicated. I would invite you to read that book. How can we help the world and its poverty? We can’t fix their circumstances. But we can go and encourage them in their Christian faith, affirm the greatness of God, show dignity for the poor and relate to them with all of our mutual need for Christ. Just because we don’t live in poverty doesn’t mean that we’re not also broken without Christ. We also need to leave our god complexes at home. It helps if we are committed to learning about their history and culture. Poverty is complicated, so remember alleviation is a long-term goal. Let the local Christians guide you with projects. Allow them to solve their problems. Let’s truly be a blessing. We don’t always have to be in control or tell them how they need help. Pray and ask for guidance. Many times churches in foreign countries feel blessed and grateful to just have you there with them. Let’s go and be a blessing to others. Form long-term relationships and you will see how the Lord uses them and us for good, for His glory.