By Abbi - AIM Personnel Manager for Australia
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’
- Do you feel God is calling you to explore serving Him in a cross-cultural environment?
- Considering a Short Term Mission trip to explore this calling further?
- Wondering what challenges you’ll face?
- Is it all worth it?!
Let’s take a brief look at some of the positives and negatives Short Term mission can sometimes bring…
Growing an understanding of the realities of cross-cultural mission
There can be many misconceptions of what missionary life is like and if you have never experienced it you can get the wrong impression. After participating in short-term mission, people are often wiser about the realities, goals and service of missions; often appreciating what full-term missionaries face in their ministries.
Developing an awareness of other cultures and the wider world
Short-term volunteers can face unfamiliar languages to understand, customs and body language to navigate and culture shock to deal with. If managed well, they can gain a greater insight into other people’s lives and societies. Many volunteers working in poorer societies appreciate the opportunities to practice humility.
Grow in faith and depending upon God
Short-term mission is as much about serving others as about growing in your own faith. Being out of your comfort zone can make you obedient and reliant upon God. Living in a cross-cultural mission environment can make you even more passionate about God’s people and outreach. Praying every day for opportunities to witness can make you joyful when you receive them, giving the glory to God.
Lightening the burden of full-term missionaries
Short-termers can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the task at hand. They can be an extra pair of hands, bring a much-needed skill, bring enthusiasm and encouragement and add to full-term missionary’s Christian fellowship.
Opportunity to seriously consider long-term mission
Short-term mission provides opportunity to ‘test the water’ for those considering full-time missions. They will get an understanding of the mission field, a particular role or country which may help them to know what God is calling them to.
Increase their support of full-term missionaries
Once back home, short-termers can become life-long supporters of missionaries through giving, prayer and staying in touch. They often report back to their sending churches encouraging others to find out more!
I have often thought ‘I’m no preacher! I have limited Biblical training, am I even suited to cross-cultural mission?’ I read a quote recently by Virginia Tanner, an AIM missionary, ‘We are part of something big – the greatest story that God is writing on the hearts of men. He uses ordinary people and insignificant events to further his Kingdom.’ Those who have gone into any cross-cultural mission work believing they will make a different because they have the right skills, credentials and are adaptive, often face a steep learning curve. I believe that short-term mission experiences provide a unique opportunity for Christians to humble themselves before the Lord, giving up their comforts and pride to best learn and explore how the Lord can use them in the everyday circumstances.
Ben Wirth, Australian AIM volunteer on the short-term ‘GO Program’ recently wrote, ‘We head out the door, 2 boys, 1 Australian, 1 Bulgarian and 3 girls, 2 Taiwanese and 1 German, the only light-skinned people in sight on a busy main road in Nairobi. It has been interesting to see a little bit of how people live and what society is like for lots of people in a big city in Kenya. While life may seem quite miserable for them in my eyes, I was reminded that our society does not understand the best way to live and that God’s good plan for human life is much more than just the material and whatever my idea of a good life is…’
Living in another culture can be awkward, scary and frustrating. But it can also provide us with new insights and help us to grow. Personally, from living among different cultures I learnt (not always easily) how to love others for who they are and that my identity should be rooted in Christ.
The financial cost
One of our greatest fears in preparing for our 8-month trip to Tanzania with AIM was asking the people we knew to support us financially. As well as, knowing we would be restricted to living off what we fundraised with no other significant means to generate income. We reluctantly placed these fears in God’s hands and watched in amazement as our support grew. Going overseas is expensive, but we can trust that God will help provide for us if it is His will.
‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.’
If you are considering a Short Term mission trip within your home country or overseas, it’s important to invest time in praying to God about the trip. Consider talking to your church leadership and getting their advice, or a good Christian friend or relative. Ask them to pray for you, that God would guide you as you make decisions about where, when and what.
AIM would be more then happy to talk with you about our Short Term opportunities, answer questions or discuss your concerns.
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org (Australia) or email@example.com (New Zealand)