Monday, August 11, 2008

Acts: Short-Term Trips (18:18-23)

For whatever reason, after over a year of success and protection in Corinth, Paul’s second missionary effort came to an end. He headed back to his home church, apparently to touch base and prepare for another departure. On the way he accompanied Priscilla and Aquila to Ephesus where they stayed. He spent a short time there and, as always, he shared the Gospel message with the Jews. They asked him to stay. He declined but promised to return.
 
Even today, this is a common positive effect of short-term “mission trips.”
 
Used in strategic ways, volunteers can be effective in places where they stay for a short period, but things largely depend on a long term presence of people who will prepare for and follow up on the efforts of the volunteers.
 
In the past, Missionaries complained about volunteer groups. They seem to always either: require baby-sitting, or else they experience false and hyped up results that cause them to question the need for long term efforts. Latin America in particular is known for the “American” effect. Basically, they will always answer yes to any question posed by an American, especially if said American is giving anything away.
 
Today, volunteer groups are seen as a huge strategic asset. However, perhaps the biggest positive effect of short trips is the way the volunteers are impacted. The percentage of new career missionaries who have never had any prior international mission experience is small and shrinking.
 
Paul’s visit to Ephesus resulted in him returning for a multiple year stay. The moral: beware of short-term mission trips. They may change you more than you change the world!

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