Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Short-term Outreaches (6)

Exactly one day after previously posting (once again!) some thoughts on short-term outreaches, an article appeared in Christianity Today’s electronic version about the same topic. You can read it here.
What amazed me of this article that the author was reporting on a short-term outreach by a group of young people from a church in Nairobi, Kenya, and they had just returned from a short-term outreach to India.
When we think of short-term outreaches, then we see in our mind’s eye a group of people from some affluent church in the United States or Canada or another Western country going to some third-world country in Africa or Asia. I admit – this is also how I see it. What this article clearly illustrated was that mission outreaches are no longer the privilege of Western countries. Christians in third-world countries are increasingly going to reach out to the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God in other countries. In the book of David Bosch which I am reading at present, he says that third-world countries have no distinction between theology and the theology of missions as it is found in Western churches. I’ll write more about this at a later stage. Read against the background of this article in Christianity Today, it makes sense that Christians from third-world countries may become more and more involved in short-term outreaches.
The other surprising thing in this article was to see how the African Christians struggled with the cultural differences which they experienced in India. The food, the heat, the humidity – all the things which we as Western Christians would find difficult to adapt to – were issues which the Christians from Kenya also struggled with. Somehow we tend to think that people from third-world countries, regardless of where they are situated, would easily adapt in another third-world country. But evidently, this is not so. Regardless of where you work, you will be stretched culturally if you leave your own comfort zone behind.
But the main reason why this article touched me, was because it absolutely emphasised what I had written in my own post about thinking long-term if we go on short-term outreaches. The article says: A friend’s church recently sent a second short-term team to serve alongside Christians in a small, materially poor town in Central America they had visited the previous summer. They were overwhelmed, and taken aback, when their hosts tearfully told them on the last night of their visit, “We have had American Christians visit us before. But none of them ever returned. We thought that God had forgotten us.”
A short-tern outreach can have a tremendously positive influence in a country and amongst local Christians. But we need to think of long-term consequences and responsibilities when we start planning to go on an outreach, otherwise we may break down a lot of trust.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - Posted by | Africa, Building relations, Comfort Zone, Culture, Culture Shock, David Bosch, Evangelism, Mission, Short-term outreaches


  1. […] 13 12 2007 After a little vacation from reading blogs, I visited one of my old stand-bys. Here is an article that he wrote about short-term missions. Check it […]

    Pingback by Short-Term Missions « Meditations on the Law | Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Reply

  2. Glad you’re back!

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Reply

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