Summer Missions: 3 Quick Reasons Why You Should #Go and Fuel the Fire
By Shane on in Blog with No Comments
“I’m not sure I’m ready for this. I’m not sure if I believe yet, but I want to learn more.”
My new friend Jonathan and I had just spent an hour talking about God and Jesus, friends, values, and the future. I had met him through a survey he filled out when a short-term (summer) missions team had visited Puerto Rico.
As I drove home that day I thought of the privilege I have in doing what I do. It’s such a privilege to share with students how they can have a personal relationship with the living God. My friend Jonathan had never heard what I had shared with him.
Think about that. He had never heard.
I met Jonathan through a short-term team that visited us just a few weeks prior. I loved it when a short-term missions team visited us when we lived in Puerto Rico, these teams came in and poured gasoline on the fire of what God was already doing.
Let me be the first to invite you on a short-term mission. Go somewhere for a week, for a month, or for a year. I don’t really care where you go. Just go somewhere.
As one who hosted these teams allow me to share 3 very simple reasons why short term missions matter.
They Matter Because Longer Termers Need Your Help
Last year I read a blog going on and on about how short term missions are overrated. They are a hassle for those living on location and receiving the team. They create more work. The blog said sometimes they’re just not worth it.
I totally disagree.
As a result of short-term teams visiting us in Puerto Rico we saw people come to know Jesus, we saw students who are on the fringe of our group become more involved, and we were encouraged as a team.
When you go for a summer or a year you will accelerate what God is already doing. You will see God change lives as you share your faith, and you will see God change your own life as you share your faith.
I remember a conversation I had last year with a Puerto Rican pastor. He said we were on the front lines of what he wants his church to be doing. It was an awesome conversation about partnering together to help people see Jesus.
I asked him how he came to know so much about who we are as a group and what God has called us to do on campus. He said he met with the leader of our short-term team from the previous summer. This team was in and out of here in one month. But I feel like that short trip moved us forward about a year.
The leader of that team explained to my pastor that in some ways our group is like an ambulance service. We want to pick up students and drive them to Jesus. We are an ambulance service for my pastor’s church, and for other churches.
I like that. I could go on and on about how this short-term team helped our long-term ministry there in Puerto Rico, but this is suppose to be a blog you can read in 90 seconds.
They Matter Because They Are Biblical
I am not at all saying that short-term missions is the end all. Of course not. The longer we have missionaries on the field the better opportunity there is to raise up national leaders. It’s all about nationally led spiritual movements.
But God has a history of using short-term missions. How long do you think the apostle Paul took as he planted those churches we are always reading about in the New Testament? Did he stay in those places for 5 years at a time?
Nope. He was in those cities briefly — read more about Paul’s Stint year in Antioch in Acts 11, and his 90 day short term mission in Ephesus found in Acts 19 — and then coached and encouraged the leaders from a distance. Sometimes he even coached these churches from a rotting prison cell.
They Matter Because They Bless Both Sides Of The Ocean
I spent 10 years on staff with Cru at UC Santa Barbara. One student I worked with for several years was my friend John. John invested a summer while he was at UCSB and went to Tokyo on a summer mission. John came back from that summer on fire. He went on to start a group on campus called Epic. Epic is a contextualized ministry that focuses on helping Asian American students know and grow in Jesus.
As the director of the campus I was thrilled. I had this student come back from a summer and ask me if I could help him reach out to students. Where did he get this vision? Was it from me discipling him? Was it from our Bible study? Nope. But I would like to think so! God clearly gave John a vision to reach Asian American students as a result of spending a summer on mission in Tokyo. His summer blessed not just those students in Japan but those at UCSB as well.
Oh and by the way, that group that John started 17 years ago at UCSB continues today.
I remember a Fall Retreat we hosted in Puerto Rico – “Retiro de Otono.” During the last meeting I looked around the audience and counted 26 students representing 6 universities. I thought of the other 20 or so students who weren’t at the retreat but still involved with us. I was encouraged as I thought of how many students were involved when we arrived the previous year – which was 0.
We met many of those students as a result of short-term mission teams who came in to help us. They were such a blessing. If and when you go on a short-term mission I am sure you will be a blessing as well.