Posted by: michelle g | March 19, 2011

Moving toward “residual” benefits

It fueled my love for missions.  I’m talking about a short-term mission trip.  It began with Alaska in 1995.  Amazing and transforming opportunities in Jamaica, Mexico, and India soon followed.  But even at the time, I felt a void.  Now I think I know now what was missing—a lack of a long-term involvement with the local church.  I think short-term teams are beginning to see the benefit of creating longer-lasting relationships where they serve—as well as engaging in activities that offer more “residual” benefits to the local hosts.

Here in Uganda, I have reflected on this topic and discussed it with some local leaders.  We discussed how nice it would be for more groups to do deep spiritual and biblical teaching.  For example, adults here often lack bibles or the guidance on how to read and study them.  Teaching basic life skills (money management, hygiene, setting realistic goals, etc.) would help people re-assess and re-organize their life situation.

I have already seen how this can be so helpful.  The pastor’s wives have gained a simple skill of bead/necklace making.  They can sell necklaces to put food on the table, put their kids through school, or save for a long-term dream like opening a shop.  They’ve also recently learned the art of cake-making.  Practical skills can give such hope.  The pastor’s wives have also been practicing how to read and apply the bible to their lives, by the way.

Can short-term teams think long-term?  Can they foster the growth of spiritual and practical life-skills that will make a lasting difference long after they’ve returned home?

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