Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Short-term Outreaches (4)

The team from Canada left Swaziland today. The question in my mind is: Was it worthwhile? The costs involved, the effort to reach Swaziland from Canada, being here for nine days and then leaving again. Is it worthwhile?
After our church service yesterday I spent some time with the team, reflecting on their experiences and trying to determine for myself how I should think about these things. I know that there are some people who believe that it would be a better investment for a team to remain at home and then to send $2000 (or whatever a trip like this would cost per person) to a needy church. Personally I doubt very much that this would have the same effect as a short-term outreach.
What came out of the discussions yesterday was an extremely positive feeling from the group “to have been there.” They will return to Canada and they will share their experiences based on what they had seen. My own approach to short-term outreaches is that nothing is as important as building relations. And this team definitely succeeded in doing this. Amongst others this was done through the girls living at a house of some of the local people. (The men slept at a church building.)
The one complaint which they had was that the trip was too short. Just when they had begun to learn names and faces, they had to leave. Their recommendation is therefore that a group should stay for at least two weeks.
I also believe that there was a good balance between things done by the group for the community and things done by the community for them. They had visited quite a number of people, had helped community members in getting cleaner water and spent a lot of time with children and especially orphans. But the community also gave back to them, giving them fruit from their gardens and inviting them to eat with them and taking care of them in whatever way they could.
What will the long-lasting effects be? The Swazi people will remember them. We had a team from Operation Mobilization a year ago and the people still regularly speak about them. I’m sure that most of those who had come to Swaziland will feel differently, pray differently and also give differently for missions in the future. This is important. I am also sure that many of them will keep contact with the Swazi people they had met. This is also good, because in this way, relationships are being formed.
Some people may differ from me, but I am really positive about short-term outreaches.

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Monday, August 13, 2007 - Posted by | Comfort Zone, Mission, Short-term outreaches, Support teams, Swaziland, Theology

1 Comment »

  1. Due to my family obligations I have never been able to go on short term missions. Our church does this all the time, especially to Mexico to an orphanage there. We support a child there, and I wish so much we could go, but my father cannot be alone for more than a day. I would LOVE to have my children and husband go too and have the experience. I do think building relationships is critical for any ministry to thrive, but even more so for missions.

    Comment by Maya | Thursday, August 30, 2007 | Reply


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