Monday, January 14, 2013

KEYS TO SUCCESS ON SHORT TERM MISSION TRIPS…FOR OPENERS, JUST GO!  

Our guest post is written by Dwight Short. Dwight has been a friend of mine for 26 years. I first met him through my involvement with Fellowship of Christian Athletes when I first came to NE Ohio. We served on the board in Cleveland together. Later, Dwight and his wife, Marlene, became active, participating members of CVC. Dwight has had a very successful career as a teacher/coach and at Merrill Lynch. He has moved to the Tampa area where he is active as a consultant and in ministry. The post that follows is his latest Monday Morning Message. As you will see, missions is still on his heart and in his life.

Monday Morning Message, January 14, 2013

January of the year 2000, our local mission leader from Cuyahoga Valley Church visited our small group to talk about the importance of short term mission trips. He was aware of how everyone in this gathering had been financial partners for many years to many of the members of CVC who had built orphanages, shared the Jesus Film, and served in medical facilities. 

But his message that night was that he believed we should not just give money for others to go on the mission trips but it was time for us to GO! It became the catalyst for two of us in the group to sense God’s calling for us to do just that.

Since that first basketball trip to Mombasa, Kenya, the Lord has been gracious in allowing me to be part of eight more teams in sharing God’s love. Not a day goes by that I do not think of many of those teammates and the people we were able to touch with the message of the Gospel. 

I wanted to share some things that I have learned from these experiences because we are at the point in time where you will hear about and perhaps even be approached about being a partner in such a trip. This advice is intended to be applied in your planning if you are actually going, and should be part of your due diligence if you are supporting a team thru your financial gifts.

MAKE SURE THERE IS A CLEAR PURPOSE FOR THE TRIP. This should be easily explained and it should encompass more than, “we are going somewhere to play a sport”. If the trip will not involve openly sharing the Gospel message visually or verbally, think twice before jumping in.

MAKE SURE THERE IS STRUCTURED LEADERSHIP. Usually this means three forms of leadership, such as a coach, doctor, nurse, or leader of the intended mission. An administrative leader who takes care of monies, tickets, travel arrangements, lodging and all the nitty gritty details. Most importantly, a Spiritual Leader who can keep the MAIN THING IN FOCUS when all the challenges and obstacles start to show up.
 
MAKE SURE YOU ARE REALLY NEEDED. Local missionaries and leaders will normally request help from specific sources and once there is a feeling that God is matching up those with specific talents and gifts that match those needs, JUST GO!!!

Several people questioned me on our first trip to Kenya as to why we would go all that way and spend all that money when we have needs here at home. Their concerns were valid in my mind and I could not really explain back then why it seemed important other than we all felt God’s calling to go. 

When we finished our ten days in Mombasa, close to one hundred young people, mostly young men had made a decision to give their lives to Christ. The missionary on the last night said that they had not seen one conversion in over two years prior to our coming. When we got home, we took those who questioned us by the hand and asked if they would help us preach the Gospel right here at home. There is room for both points of service in God’s Kingdom. 

Question: Where will you or your partners GO in 2013?

Matthew 28:19-20 (RSV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

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