Regional and overseas mission trips are an integral part of New Mercy overall redemptive strategy. These trips generally span the course of two to three weeks. However, participants not only must raise their own funds (while also contributing a percentage from their own pockets), but they must also undergo months of training.
Whereas opinions vary as to the purpose and effectiveness of short-term missions, our ministry has found short-term missions to be a highly effective tool for building the Kingdom of God. Rather than employing a hit-and-run style of short-term missions, our goal is to build ongoing relationships with long-term missionaries. By doing this, the long-term missionaries are able to use our short-term missionaries as a resource for accomplishing their goals in their respective locales. If used rightly, short-term missionaries produces long-lasting fruit for God’s Kingdom.
Take this particular case-study, for example. Currently, New Mercy has a long-term relationship with a missions organization in Cote d’Ivoire (Abidjan International Ministries). We send short-term missionaries to that country every summer for a brief 2.5 weeks to work along with the long-term missionaries and local native pastors. The long-term missionaries have stated unequivocally that short-term missionaries are extremely valuable, and without them, their ministry would be crippled. Here are the list of benefits AIM has enumerated: (1) Long-term missionaries tend to burn-out without support and partnerships to help with the burden of ministry. They need periodic partners to revive them and to give them new ideas and energy. (2) Oftentimes, it is through short-term missionaries that long-term missionaries are found. v(3) Short-term missionaries give them resources to do large events on a yearly basis. During our summer trips, short-term missionaries (about 50-100 at a time) visit several different local villages holding revivals, medical clinics, VBS, street evangelism, and so on. He says not only do the local natives look forward to these large-scale events, but these events produce a 30% jump in converts in the local churches. This jump lasts through the year. (4) Also, the money raised by the short-term missionaries is used to plant churches and community centers and seminaries. Currently, that organization has planted one seminary and 40+ churches in that country, some of them through the efforts of short-term missionaries. Through these churches and seminaries, native Ivorians are trained as pastors. These pastors then go plant their own village churches. These seminaries have also trained people from other West African countries. In fact, it seems that the entirety of West Africa could very well be effected by this organization and their partnership with short-term missionaries.
(5) Short-term missionaries are extremely effective at raising awareness on behalf of long-term missionaries and their causes. (6) In terms of medical missions, short-term missionary doctors from the United States have given AIM access to a resource they were never able to attain before – highly trained surgeons, equipment, and medication. In the summer of 2009 and 2010, the doctors and nurses, in conjunction with local surgeons, performed 95 hernia surgeries for natives free-of-charge. They also provided supplies and training for native surgeons.
Of course, short-term mission work is not always the most “efficient” use of money or resources. But, this alone should not be the basis for not utilizing them. There are always more “efficient” ways to accomplish a goal. But biblically speaking it seems that God is not really always concerned about efficiency. In fact, in the Bible, God seems quite lavish and oftentimes “foolish” about the way he goes about using resources and people for his Kingdom. If we understand God to love his lost sheep and if we understand the nature of love, it is reasonable that sometimes God is not always so concerned about efficiency. When expressing their love, lovers are not always so concerned about efficiency and cost. Stewardship is important, but stewardship can also become idolatrous and hinder God’s plans of love. (i.e. What would we say to the shepherd who left the 99 other sheep?)
We firmly believe that a sizable portion of the funding should come from the short-term missionaries themselves. But we do believe there is significant value in asking people to partner with us in prayer and financially. If done right, this is a way for people here who cannot go on missions to be a part of God’s work. It also a powerful way to raise awareness and to rally a movement of people toward God’s purposes.
Our ministry understands that short-term missions have been abused and are used as a badge of accomplishment by many. And it is true short-term mission trips can be used by Christians as a glorified vacation or an anti-depressant. (Though, sometimes God seems to condone this in Isaiah 58.) But if done right, and by the reasons listed above, we firmly believe and we have seen first-hand that short-term missions are an extremely valuable part of God’s work.
In 2012, New Mercy will continue its long-term relationships with missionaries in the Ivory Coast and East Asia. We will also be launching vision trips to India and to South America. Each of these regions requires a different strategy, and our missions committee is hard at work trying to calibrate missional projects and methods that will have the highest impact for each particular region. Depending on the region, we will offer medical missions (e.g. surgeries, consultations, medication), children’s programs, tutoring and English intensive classes, construction projects, worship services, street evangelism, the building of personal relationships, orphan care, theological instruction at seminaries, and so forth. We will provide more information for these trips as they approach.
If you would like to partner with us and help support New Mercy’s global missional efforts, please visit our Missions Giving section.