Why do short-term mission trips? Aren’t they a waste of money? Wouldn’t it just be better to raise money and send it to the people already doing work in that place?
I’ve heard so many arguments for and against short-term missions and at different points in my life have argued passionately for both sides! But as I reflect on my journey with Christ, I realize how many pivotal and defining moments happened to me while on a short-term mission trip. It doesn’t seem to matter the destination, God has a tendency to speak very clearly while I’m sharing God’s love and serving others in a different context. There’s just something about being removed from what we’re comfortable with that helps us hear God more clearly.
Knowing Where to Go
When I’m planning a short-term mission trip for the Senior High students at FAC I look at the potential experience through a couple of different lenses.
The first thing I try to figure out when deciding on a trip is whether or not the work we would be doing will have a lasting impact on the community we are visiting. Sometimes this can be tough to figure out and we don’t always get it right. However, I strongly believe if we invest all the time and resources it takes to send a team, we should be pretty confident that what we are doing while there will have a lasting, kingdom impact.
Since I joined the Student Ministries team at FAC, we’ve travelled to Cuba providing work and resources needed to get some house churches off the ground. We’ve travelled to Spain and handed out Bibles to North Africans, trusting God would use His word to bring people to Him.
We’ve been to San Francisco where we worked with local organizations striving to make their communities a better place and, most recently, to Montreal where we worked alongside a local church running ESL day camps.
Regardless of the destination, our hope is that God will use these short-term mission trips to encourage the churches and communities we visit. A few years ago in Cuba, through tears, the pastor of the church said they’d been praying for years to be reminded that God hadn’t forgotten them. We were the answer to their prayer.
Secondly, these trips can be a huge opportunity for discipleship. Not only are we allowing God to work through us but we are asking God to work in us. These trips can be like a spiritual incubator to foster and accelerate growth. The conversations, prayers, and spiritual break-through that can happen during these trips are well worth the resources and work! Some of my most fond memories are of baptizing students in Cuba or of sitting with students in Montreal and seeing God break through years of pain. God uses these trips to grow us as His followers and as a community.
Can Mission Trips Be Local?
All of that to say … why Calgary this year? That’s a great question! I love the experiences our students have had in other cultures and cities around the world but we also need to recognize there are so many needs and opportunities in our own city. It’s one thing to go somewhere far away and serve, but a completely other thing to be confronted with the need in our own city and to do something about it.
So what’s where God is calling us this year, to our very own city!
On March 25-29, 2018 a group of 15 senior high school students and some adult leaders will be spending spring break loving kids and serving families in the northeast quadrant of our very own city! We’ll be partnering with Encompass Partnerships and the New Canadian Friendship Centre to run a free day camp during spring break for families who might have a hard time affording child care while school’s out. We’re planning a fun super-hero themed program and providing lunch every day for the kids who come (made by our very own Harvest Ministries!). Instead of sending our team home every night, we’ve also booked Camp Chestermere where we’ll stay together for team building and debriefing every day.
I’m so excited about this opportunity to serve our own city and experience a culture that’s distinct from most of our own only 25 minutes down the road. My prayer is that as we serve and love the people of this community that His love will shine brightly through us.
If you’d like to partner with us, we’re still looking for funds to pay for our lodging and transportation, and lunches for the campers. You can give in our weekend services by marking an offering envelope “SHS Missions Trip.” We’re also looking for people to commit to praying for us before we go and while we’re there.
If you’d like to know more about what we’ll be doing and how you can be part of it, feel free to contact me.
Written by Dave Conrad