Our team had an interesting discussion this morning during breakfast as it concerns the main purpose behind short-term mission trips. I have come to the conclusion over the past few years that one of the reasons I wish to go on such adventures nearly every year as a pastor – especially on set-up trips – is to encourage the missionaries, leadership teams, or ministry directors that are on the field each and every day. They need to be uplifted, counseled, coached, listened to, and prayed for. Even at appropriate times and ways – corrected. We have the opportunity to mentor them and model ministry before them. That they would receive the affirmation and confirmation that what they are doing does in fact matter and that they have local churches back at home that are committed to be in their corner. That they have permission to be creative and courageous in their approach.
The bible reads, “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:11-16, ESV).
I, of course, am all for personal evangelism on these trips. But let’s face it, I need a translator. I have no prior relationship with most of these people. I do not understand the culture and will not be here in just a few days. What greater investment might it be if I help equip the local leadership in sharing the gospel, casting the vision, and building the teams? I want to be a breath of fresh air and a fire in their belly. A partner. These new friends, like all the other missionaries that I have come in contact with over the years, are truly my heroes. One of these gentlemen has been a youth leader for over ten years – dedicating all of that time and energy to discipling orphans several times a week in several different locations. I want to be cheering on people like this for a lifetime.