Sunday, August 21, 2011

Short Term Team, Long Term Commitment






In July we had the pleasure of hosting a short-term missions team from Twin Lakes Church in California. This was a pretty big deal for us because this was the first team visit that Kelly and I were helping to plan and host. As I’m sure many of our readers appreciate, there are a lot of ups and downs to short-term missions but this team in particular is a great example and so we wanted to share a bit with you about it.
The team was made up of four ladies, three of whom had been to Zambia before and two of those worked with ACTION Zambia last year. Kim B., the team leader, has worked with AZ a lot and was able to give her team a lot of guidance before and during the trip.
The Twin Lakes ladies had two primary ministries to work with while here in Lusaka. First, they visited a community school in Kanyama to provide some training and encouragement to the teachers there. Rhonda, one of the team members, is a long-time teacher and prepared a lot of materials and activities. Because she had been part of the same team a year before, she had an idea of what to expect. The team spent two days with these teachers and they were a real encouragement to them. From a ministry perspective there were some pros and cons to this set-up. The big plus is that by returning a second time to work with these teachers, the TL team showed these teachers that they are really valued and respected and they continued to build up these relationships. The big down side of the ministry time was that it was short. The TL team was left feeling that to really make an impact, a team would need to invest a lot more time.
The second ministry area the team participated in was women’s ministry with all of the wives of the pastors with whom ACTION Zambia works in our pastor college. We call them APC wives. Again, this is a ministry area that Kim’s team worked with last year. The TL team spent time visiting some of the APC wives at their homes. Then they came out to Ciyanjano to prepare and present a retreat for all the wives. The retreat was a few days and Kim and her team did all the teaching on topics ranging from Bible study to nutrition.
Because these APC wives had participated in the retreat last year, seeing Kim and Rhonda again was a sweet reunion. I can’t stress enough how much it means to Zambian believers to have short-term missionaries come back again and again. It really convinces them of the love and commitment their brothers and sisters feel.
Of course I can go on and on about how important these ministry areas are and what the TL team experienced here in Lusaka. But I think that what Kelly and I both felt was most memorable about seeing this team do ministry is the love given and returned by the teachers and APC wives with whom the team worked. Especially seeing Kim and Rhonda come back obviously made a big impression on the Zambians they served.
So we just wanted to thank this team and Twin Lakes for sending them and encourage you readers. Perhaps God has not called you into career missions but what about career short-term missions? Over the years we’ve seen many “ordinary” people make a powerful commitment to a particular mission field and then contribute their time, prayer, and resources over many shorter trips. Just one of the many ways that God’s people can help spread the gospel and encourage the Church. If you would like to read more about missions, one book that comes to mind is When Helping Hurts. If you are a John Piper fan you could also check out Don’t Waste Your Life.

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