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I have led short term mission trips.

I have coordinated the Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland short term mission programme.

I have seen short termers become long term with Wycliffe and other organisations.

I know the value of short term mission.

I also know that short term mission trips can be failures and even harmful to the people being visited.

I have organised a debate in my church with the title…

I like to make people think!

So here’s a video entitled The Honest Mission Trip Leader which is

a. very funny

and

b. too close to the truth!

I would love some reactions to the video…

… and if you want to explore good short term opportunities with Wycliffe UK & Ireland, take a look here!

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It’s almost that time of year. Well, we’ll need to celebrate Christmas first of course, but many Christians, young and older, students or GAPpers, early retired or really retired… will soon be thinking about a short term mission trip.

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publication1

It’s almost that time of year. Well, we’ll need to celebrate Christmas first of course, but many Christians, young and older, students or GAPpers, early retired or really retired… will soon be thinking about a short term mission trip.

“I have a sort of love / hate relationship with short term mission trips,” I wrote a few months ago in one of many posts on short term mission.

I look out for blogs on this topic and Eddie Arthur is a regular writer who makes one think.

Eddie’s latest is published in Christian Today website entitled 7 Tips For Making The Most Of A Short Term Mission Trip.

  • Talk to your church leadership: Definitely do that!
  • Go with an organisation that you’ve heard of: Yep, there are some dodgy ones out there… so I’m told.
  • A word of warning: Read this one for yourself
  • Make sure they will look after you: “Going to Burkina Faso for a month is different from spending a week in Ibiza and it’s much more of a challenge,” says Eddie. He’s right.
  • Do no harm: You could you know – “It can be really exciting to go out to the developing world and help to build a new village school. That is unless you are the village builder, who has lost his income because he’s been replaced by a bunch of young Brits who are working for free…”
  • Have a break: Maybe a wee holiday before coming home…
  • Look for the seal of approval: A very important one – read all about it!

Before we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland in 1988, I had never been on a short term mission trip. Could I count taking a school SU group away to Co Tyrone for the weekend or several years as a section leader of Newtownbreda CSSM or hosting a home Bible study group? Do they qualify as “short term mission”? What do you think?

For a number of years I was responsible for summer mission teams for Wycliffe UK & Ireland and I think we got it right in that these were definitely not “mission tourism” but experiencing and contributing to the long term task of ongoing Bible translation projects. An encouraging number of participants later joined Wycliffe long term.

I am retiring at the end of December, so I am unlikely to ever go on a short term mission trip, but well you never know… should I read Eddie’s article again?

Oh,nearly forgot! Check out Wycliffe’s options here

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mission-trip

I have a sort of love / hate relationship with short term mission trips.

Before we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland in 1988, I had never been on a short term mission trip overseas. But should I count taking a school SU group away for the weekend or several years as a section leader of Newtownbreda CSSM or hosting a home Bible study group? Do they qualify as “short term mission”?

For a number of years I was responsible for summer mission teams for Wycliffe and I think we got it right in that these were definitely not mission tourism but experiencing and contributing to the long term task of ongoing Bible translation projects. An encouraging number of participants later joined Wycliffe long term.

I have blogged on this topic before, but what sparked this one was first my church mission coordination group discussing the possibilities for a group from my church to visit a couple that we support in Kenya and, in the future, another couple en route to Japan. And we’re thinking hard about how we do it. It will not be mission tourism!

And secondly there was Eddie Arthur’s recent blog which has the same title as this post. read on…

Yes, you read that title right. There is no such thing as short-term mission.

We could spend ages arguing about what exactly we mean by mission, but that’s not the point of this piece. Let’s simply look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.

‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

So mission is first and foremost to make disciples. It isn’t about making converts; getting people to raise their hands at the end of an emotional evangelistic talk. It’s about helping people to develop into maturing Christ followers who are living disciplined (the clue is in the word) lives. That is not a short term project, it can’t be done in just a few weeks or even a few months.

If this wasn’t enough, Jesus then tells us that we have to teach the new disciples everything he commanded us. That might take a little time, too.

So mission, by it’s nature, is a long term activity. There are no short cuts.

I particularly like this next paragraph.

However, just because mission itself is long term, this doesn’t mean that there is no place for short term mission workers. What it does mean is that short-term mission work must take place within a long-term framework. Short-term missionaries can bring valuable skills and manpower to bear at critical points in a long project. The key is designing short-term mission projects that support ongoing mission work.                  [Italics mine]

Eddie added a footnote. Well, he would; he works for Global Connections! But I thoroughly agree with his final sentence.

If you are interested in short-term mission, you should take a look at the Global Connections “Short-Term Mission; Code of Best Practice“. I would strongly discourage anyone from going on a short-term trip which does not adhere to these basic principles.

Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland is looking into new initiatives in this area but in the meantime see what might get you involved.

 

 

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Caitlin Hamilton was one of four students from N. Ireland who attended Wycliffe’s Two Week Stint programme in the south of France this past summer. We invited Caitlin to write a blog for us and here it is. She starts by tracing her journey with Wycliffe…     

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I will never forget the moment I walked into a boulangerie in the south of France to ask for 18 baguettes! The boulangerie was in Charmes-sur-Rhône, a little village in the Ardèche area of France. The reason I was there was because I was taking part in the Two Week Stint.

It started on Sunday the 17 July 2016, when I arrived at the gîte to find this group of then strangers, now friends, all standing around outside and talking. Well, you could say it started that morning when I left the house at 6.30 to get the bus for Dublin. After a lift, a bus, a plane, a tram, a train, another bus and a lift from the bus stop, I was finally there, ready for the two weeks to begin.

Or then again, maybe it started even before that. I first heard of Wycliffe through church. I love languages, so when it came time to do work experience in lower sixth, my first thought was Wycliffe. I spent a fascinating week in the Belfast office, where I learnt translation wasn’t as simple as you would think. I was so taken with the work of Wycliffe, that I brought a friend along to the First Steps a few weeks later. Ever since I had been considering coming on the Two Week Stint, but the timing had never been right – until this year. I’m very thankful that I was able to get a travel scholarship at Queens: God is good.

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Each morning began with worship, prayer and Bible teaching

Over the two weeks, we spent time together each morning in worship and Bible teaching. Our focus was on Acts, that God is on a mission. I really enjoyed the chance to worship together with this group of people from so many places, singing in both English and French as we praised our Lord. Then, each morning, we spent time learning more about the work of Wycliffe, and what is involved in Bible translation. We spent three days on each of linguistics, literacy and Scripture Engagement.

Linguistics covers a wide range of areas including: sounds, how language is written down, grammar, and meaning, and all of this is vital in producing a translation that can be read, can be understood, and makes sense. I found it fascinating, especially since we were using a real African language, Mankanya, as an example. Literacy focused on the importance teaching people to read their own mother tongue, and various methods which can be used to do this. The last topic we studied was Scripture engagement. This encourages and equips people to use the Scripture and to understand it, for example, by encouraging churches to read the Bible in the local language.

Teaching

Teaching

I really enjoyed the fact that all of the camp was bilingual, in French and English. It was a great chance to practice my French and I’m feeling a lot more confident about speaking French now. Throughout the two weeks there were a number of French classes, which I found really useful as they focussed on practical things like giving your testimony and praying in French. This will certainly be useful next year as I spend my year abroad in France.

Learning

Learning

It wasn’t all classes though! Every afternoon, and at the weekend, we had free time to spend as we wished. A couple of afternoons were spent having fun by the river. We also went into the local city to explore, went to a Reformation museum, visited an impressive castle overlooking the area, went on a guided tour around some caves, and went around a maize maze. We had a lot of fun in the evenings too, chatting, playing games, and one night we even had a ceilidh!

Reformation museum visit

Reformation museum visit

The Two Week Stint was an amazing opportunity, and I enjoyed it so much. It was great getting to spend time in such an idyllic place with some lovely people while learning about the work of Wycliffe.

This article also appears in the September edition of Wycliffe News which can be ordered by e-mail or post here

My thanks to Caitlin for this guest blog about her Two Week Stint experience .
Photos © Knut Burmeister, ALLTAG  http://foto.alltagmedia.de/
For information on Two Week Stint 2017, keep an eye here

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“Selfish, unscrupulous and on the run from his brother whom he’d twice robbed, Jacob was not an ideal candidate for a special visitation from God and his heavenly companions – and yet that’s what happened!”  Fran Beckett SU WordLive 18 July 2016

As I read the passage from Genesis 28, I was struck by Jacob’s words when he awoke from his stairway to heaven dream encounter with God: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” I even added the words to my phone calendar for the next week. Too often I live my life and do my work with inadequate awareness that wherever I am and whatever I’m doing – God is in this place and in this situation. God has been encouraging me in spite of all my inadequacies.

First Steps
First Steps with Wycliffe
I get a buzz seeing people excited about bringing God’s word to others, how God leads them step by step. From January to July this year, we had five brilliant sixth formers from Coleraine, Ballymena, Limavady, Belfast and Newtownards on work experience with us.Three of them came to our First Steps day in February joining others exploring possibilities with Wycliffe. You can read about their reactions by going to www.nornirn.wordpress.com and search for “work experience”
Silhouettes with 2
As I write, Two Week Stint is happening in the South of France with four university students from N. Ireland attending. Three of them have been to First Steps and two did work experience some years ago. One of them, Caitlin, recently sent me this message:“It’s great. We just had 3 days of linguistics, which was fascinating, and now we’ve started on literacy. And it’s so pretty around here! So I’m having a great time.”

For all these whether still at school or at university or in work, we pray that God will guide them step by step in their walk with him.

Taking a Bigger Step
Our November newsletter had a picture of five silhouettes on a map in the office which reminded us to pray daily for new recruits. Two of those silhouettes now have faces as Rachel and Elaine were accepted as members in training with Wycliffe Bible Translators for overseas assignments in linguistics and Scripture use. Please continue to pray for the remaining three silhouettes to become faces.

Family Steps
On 28 February, my mother was admitted to hospital. She was quite ill for a time and is now in a nursing home needing full time care. My father has moderate dementia and has been in a residential home since late June. It has been a tough time for us and for my younger brother Alan. As I look back, I can say with Jacob, surely God has been in all these situations: in hospitals and care homes; with doctors, nurses, social workers and care workers; and some very civil civil servants.
Meanwhile Cathy and Doug have sold a flat in Aberdeen and are looking forward to moving into the first house of their own in September, while Stephen, Rachel and Ellie are expecting the patter of tiny steps, also in September.

Serious Step for John and Ruth
We plan to retire from Wycliffe Bible Translators at the end of 2016. We were accepted as members in July 1988, taught at Vavoua International School in Cöte d’Ivoire from 1989-1997 and have been in various roles with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland ever since. I am delighted to have worked with a great team in The Mount since June 2015 and look forward to hearing how God will use Ricky and Marlene Ferguson in leading a new team and building new relationships with individuals and churches.
We will be in touch again before the end of the year. As always we give thanks to God for all of you reading this – for your interest, generous support and prayers.

Next Steps in 2017..?
Who knows – surely the Lord will be in that place too!

Coming up soon…

Big events this summer
Look out for Wycliffe at New Horizon Coleraine 6-12 Aug 2016 and Bangor Worldwide 19-27 Aug 2016

Guest Bible Scholar training
Belfast 22-26 Aug 2016
Love the Bible? Think everyone should have it in their own language? You could help from home – contact Nev at nmccormack@wycliffe.org.uk

Kairos @ Belfast Bible College
Course in World Mission 12-16 Sep 2016 John is one of the teaching team
See Belfast Bible College website

Wycliffe:Live 2016

Wycliffe Live 16 a5poster#2

 

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mission_trip

Ok, I’m being deliberately provocative in the title, but please read on.

“Dear Sir, I’d like to come and be a dentist for two weeks. I’ve been meeting once a month with a small group of others who also want to be short-term dentists. We have our t-shirts printed and we’re ready to come.

P.S. Can you drive us around, translate for us and help take cool photos for our Facebook pages?”

I’d like to be a fly on the wall when the dentist received that letter. We don’t have short-term social workers, or short-term bio-scientists. We don’t have short-term gastro-enterologists or short-term politicians. So why do we have short-term missionaries in ever-increasing numbers?

So writes Craig Greenfield at Relevant Magazine.

This appeared in the past few days (or perhaps it has re-appeared because I seem to remember reading it or something very similar before). It’s in your face; it’s radical; it’s though-provoking – or is it? Because Craig goes on to make several key statements which should not be unfamiliar with Christians who understand the Bible and what Jesus has called us to in the New Testament. Take a look at John 20:21  for example.

Let’s just agree right up front that there is no such thing as a part-time Christian. There is no such thing as a follower of Jesus who is not in full-time service to God. As followers of Jesus, we are all called to a vocation.

When we see that each of us has a unique and important vocation, we’ll develop a theology of work that works.

And later he suggests some re-defining or rather, re-naming of what have come to be known as short term mission trips. You can read his suggestions in the article.

When correctly framed, these trips can be important and even life-changing seasons of engagement with the poor.
At first reading I wondered why he emphasises “the poor”. Do all short term mission teams go to visit / help poor people? Short term mission in my experience can be life-changing in many ways, not least an awareness that so many people in the world don’t have the Bible in their heart language. But then I suppose that is a form of poverty too, isn’t it? Bible poverty!
So what do you think? Does short term mission need re-thinking in your church or in the mission organisation that you are involved with? I f so, let’s do it! So that we can obey Jesus better.
PS With reference to the dentist idea above… I tried Googling “short term dentist” and I found opportunities for dentistry overseas at GapMedics UK. So dentists, there’s an option.
Or dentists and anybody elsewhere, get in touch with Wycliffe Bible Translators about opportunities to explore the Bible poverty that I referred to above.

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