Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Short-term Outreaches (3)

In a week from today I hope to have a team of people from Canada who will be visiting us in Swaziland. I thought that this may be a good time to touch on the topic of short-term outreaches once again. I had just been reading through what I had written before on this topic and am wondering how we are going to ensure that the group of 11 people who will be coming, will really have a worthwhile experience in Swaziland.
In a blog I recently discovered, some tips are given to short-term outreach teams in two posts: The one is called 10 Tips for Tackling Construction Projects on a Mission Trip and the other So you’re the one spearheading that next mission trip. Nervous?
One could possibly add a few tips and change the order to determine which of these are the most important, but that is beside the point. What I like about this is that I sense a sensitivity towards the local people in what the author writes. And this is good! Too often people go on a short-term outreach (and I have mentioned it before) with the idea that they are going to impact the people’s lives in a way that they had never experienced before. The truth is that, inevitably, most of the people met on a short-term missions outreach may already be Christians. Not only that, many of them are light-years in front of many of the people coming on the trip regarding their relationship with God.
How would I tackle the situation on Saturday? Probably it would be good to find out what the expectations are. What are their expectations? What are my expectations? What are the expectations of the people in Swaziland whom they will be visiting? I have a suspicion that our expectations may all be different. Which may not necessarily be wrong, but this has to be kept in mind. Eventually the success of the trip will not be determined whether my own expectations have been met, but whether God’s expectations had been met.
My own expectations? Probably that ongoing relationships will be built. In the African tradition relationships are extremely important. The expectations of those in Swaziland? I’m not sure. Probably something similar, perhaps expressed as having made life-long friends. But I’ll keep you updated on what happens after they have arrived.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007 - Posted by | Mission, Short-term outreaches, Theology

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