By Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization
There is an ongoing debate of whether short-term mission (STM) trips are helpful or hurtful. Are these trips “spiritual tourism” or do they in fact leave a lasting impact to the glory of God?
As a sending organization of 30-40 STM teams each year, World Orphans has much invested in the answer to that question. Additionally, as the Church Partnership mobilization director, whose job is to intently focus on equipping teams for travel, I personally have much invested in this question, as well.
It’s a question that cannot be ignored.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, …”
This statement is not an option or something Jesus gave to His disciples to consider, it is a command. As Jesus’ modern day disciples, we, too, are to go into our communities, our country and our world to teach, spread the Gospel, and make disciples.
World Orphans is honored to mobilize 36 US churches to “go” and serve alongside their international partners. Why do we send these teams? We have a heart to mobilize the church to care for the orphaned and vulnerable. World Orphans understands that STM trips are a bridge within partnership, the connecting piece for God’s global church to unite in doing His will.
In January 2014, Daybreak Community Church visited their Haitian church partner, Mission Eglise El Schaddai. Alongside Pastor Pierre, the team united with their Haitian brothers to hold two medical clinics and children’s camps, enabling them to draw more than 500 people into the church to hear and feel the love of Jesus. It brings a smile to my face thinking that because of God’s work through this team, children and families were cared for and heard the Gospel. Praise Him!
“…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”
As I consider if it is best for STM teams to go, how they go must be equally deliberated. Jesus’ disciples are called to baptize, teach and obey. He calls His disciples to engage in relationship.
As World Orphans mobilizes the church, the emphasis is not on work projects or task; the emphasis is relationship. While medical clinics and outreach events are planned and implemented, all are done within the context of relationship. Of utmost value to World Orphans is the US and international churches connecting to fellowship, pray, learn and serve with one another – to build relationship.
The same church, Daybreak Community Church, spent New Years Eve with their Haitian brothers and sisters. Over a pot of Blessing Tea, they sang, danced, praised God, and prayed together. In their time together, whether being serious or having fun, both churches were equipped and inspired as one united body to care for children, each other, and their community. What a beautiful picture of the hands and feet of Jesus reaching across the nations!
“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Last, as Scripture teaches, Jesus is with us as we go. With Christ as the cornerstone of C2C partnerships, teams travel with a heart to make Him known. All clinics, seminars and outreaches are done under the umbrella of the local church, allowing the church to minister to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of each person. As immediate needs are met with the help of the short-term team, long-term relationships amongst the community are established for the international church to nurture the love of Jesus.
Jesus, our Savior: where would we be without Him? I certainly never thought that I would be helping people travel around the world from my little house in Michigan. When we surrender our jobs, our families, our churches, and our STM trips, He takes them and makes them a beautiful work for His glory.
When the church is actively caring for the needs around them, Christ is glorified.
World Orphans will continue to send STM teams in 2014 to nurture relationships and care for children, to the glory of God. You can join with us in sending these teams by praying or going. Specific ways to pray for our teams include: deepening of relationships within each partnership, sensitivity to the culture and the leading of the Holy Spirit, humility to love and receive love, and safety. If you desire to join us on a short-term trip this year, click here.
What are your thoughts about short-term mission trips? Do you believe they are helpful or hurtful?