Yesterday we began this two-part post. You can click here to read part 1. In part 1 we considered the benefit of STMT’s (short-term missions trips) on the four potential earthly benefactors.
While what we do on missions trips is not unique; it is very intentional for our ministry. We have a strong theology of the local church. We turn our attention, albeit briefly, to that aspect of STMT’s.
Second we view these trips as local church centered. One can certainly dig ditches in Africa (which is a good work) but we simply prefer to focus our limited capacity to minister around the world on local church development. In particular, those associated with missionaries we support.
Long term this allows those who go on STMT’s to follow and pray for the progress of the work they visited. This is enhanced when the missionary returns home and those who went have a special time in connecting again with the church planting work where they served. The Apostle Paul laid this out in Philippians “for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now being confident of this very thing, that He who has began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” There is a unique privilege in knowing and following the progress of a church plant first hand!
The long-term blessing to the missionary is similar. They now have a supporting church they know is familiar with their work. As the years roll by they know we are on the journey with them. That means almost as much as the money we send to support them (ahem, that was with tongue in cheek). Seriously, church planting is hard and sometimes lonely work. A visit from brothers and sisters in Christ, perhaps even multiple visits, cements our hearts together for the gospel work and they need fellow hands to the proverbial plow.
For the church we visit, they now have American friends to keep in touch with. They know as a young and most likely small church there IS a larger pool of brothers and sisters in Christ who are with them. Sometimes they can feel as though the world or even the church has passed them by and to receive a visit from American friends and supporters gives them the earthly encouragement they need to forge on for the sake Jesus.
For the church that sends there is the joy of seeing a church they are truly partnered with mature and become self-supporting. Missions can feel like a big black hole of disappearing resources to some; but a partnership rooted in personal visits such as STMT’s helps see exactly how the investment is progressing. Every sending church wants to see fruit born of their investment in the gospel around the world. A long-term partnership enhanced through STMT’s facilitates this and brings a front row seat to world missions to the sending church.
There is more to share and discuss on an issue such as this, but this blog is not venue for such a discussion. Our missionary partners have sacrificed so much to share Jesus in places many of us wouldn’t want to. Our duty is to do what we can to encourage them, in what I can tell you from firsthand experience, is hard work. Our mission trips are tailored to each missionary we go to serve. No two trips will ever look the same. There is a strength I believe to what we do (also more work for the guy planning them :)). But, we want to bless our God and our missionary partners, and that is the ultimate goal of all our trips. To know each missionary we visit gives high praise for what we do means the world to me!
Some more pictures from Good News Baptist Church last night: