Archive for the ‘Summer teams’ Category

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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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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Just to satirise a little bit more...

Just to satirise a little bit more…

Following my discovery of Daniela Papi’s BBC magazine article, I remembered Jamie’s blog which has appeared in a recent Global Connections Sphere magazine. I’m including it in its wonderful entirety…

You know what I really want to do?

I want to fill a rental van marked “Tourist” with unbelievably rich people and then I want to bring them to your middle-class neighborhood to take pictures of you and your kids and your house and your cars.

I’ll act as the unofficial tour guide to their trip, walking them slowly down the street, pointing out the shocking differences between their lifestyle and yours. “This man,” I will say with a gesture of my upturned palm, “cuts his own lawn.”

“These kids share a bedroom.”

“Many of these families require two incomes… just to survive.”

I’ll tell them bluntly, “Most of these people will never ride in a helicopter, meet the president, or own a show horse.” And they will glance at each other with looks of angst and sadness, they’ll shake their heads at the injustice of it all.

And then I’ll let the details of your simple life sink in as they snap pictures of your no-thrills mid size SUV and your quarter acre lot. I’ll stand aside so they can get pictures of each other, smiling, with their arms around your kids in hand-me-downs. Ooh, and maybe they can take turns helping you cut your hedge or clean your bathroom, and then you could show some of them how to make a sandwich – That would be so great for the video they’re gonna take back to show at the Super Elite Rich People Church.

But don’t worry. There will totally be something in it for you. The rich people are going to paint all of the houses on your block. For real. They’re going to pay for it and do all the work and everything. Also? They’re gonna do a puppet show for your kids, and give them candy and crap.

It’s a win-win.

Even if you’re extremely uncomfortable while all of this is going on, in the end, you will look at your freshly painted house and it will make you feel good about what just happened. And when the rich people go home, they’ll get to tell their people about how they painted your house and learned to make a sandwich, which, of course, will make them feel good, too.

So, like I said, win-win

And Jamie’s conclusion…

Are short-term missions teams sent to impoverished communities helpful…? or harmful…? or maybe neither…? Whadayathink?

Check out Jamie the Very Worst Missionary and her wonderfully thought provoking blog here


woman in tentAnd, oh yes, in the meantime, here’s a Wycliffe UK suggestion for a trip that probably won’t do anyone any harm, but might help you think about your future. Two Week Stint in France this coming summer

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Volunteering abroad to build schools or dig wells might make people feel good about themselves – but it can be detrimental to those who are supposed to be helped.

I can’t remember how, but I came across this article by Daniela Papi on the BBC News Magazine 1 May 2013 entitled Is gap year a bad thing? It has prompted me to blog on short term mission again, but first…

Here are some of the things she writes…

I feel that the growing practice of sending young people abroad to volunteer is often not only failing the communities they are meant to be serving, but also setting these travellers, and by extension our whole society, up for failure in the long run.

We must stop volunteering abroad from becoming about us fulfilling our dreams of being heroes. The travellers are not just missing out on learning the lessons that lead to more sustainable changes in themselves and in the world, but they are also often negatively impacting the people they are meant to be “serving”.

Volunteering to take care of orphans might not sound too bad at first – at least I didn’t think so on my initial orphanage visits. Imagine if an orphanage near your home had a rotating door of volunteers coming to play with these children who have already been deemed vulnerable.

People often say, “doing something is better than doing nothing”. But it isn’t. Not when that something is often wasteful at best, and at worst causing a lot of harm.

Daniela is highlighting the same issues that Christian mission short termism continues to debate. It’s not that it is bad or wrong or always a disaster… but it is a continuous challenge to assess the needs of the people we claim to serve, not the self-satisfaction of Gappers, short termers with misinformed intentions and unrealistic expectations.

In short, the short term trip that you are planning to advertise or to go on… what will it achieve in the context of God’s mission to the people he created?

woman in tentIn the meantime, here’s a Wycliffe UK suggestion for a trip that probably won’t do anyone any harm, but might help you think about your future. Two Week Stint in France this coming summer

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Two Week Stint

Wycliffe Bible Translators UK are recruiting for a two week holiday with a difference!

Two Week Stint will run from Saturday 27th July to Saturday 10th August 2013, near Valence in the south of France.

Participants will join a group from across Europe as Wycliffe Bible Translators UK and ATB France* host a bilingual, cross-cultural and productive holiday, with plenty of opportunity for time spent with God and some adventure thrown in too!

In the mornings, participants will have a chance to worship, draw closer to God and reflect on his mission to the world – and join one of three tracks: creative, linguistic and teaching / literacy

For more details on Two Week Stint and to register go to www.wycliffe.org.uk/twoweekstint

* L’Association Traduire la Bible

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Wycliffe Bible Translators UK is a member of MAP – the Mission Agencies Partnership in N. Ireland.

MAP logo

MAP is made up of a group of 45 mission agencies who have come together to form a partnership.

At the heart of this partnership is the strong belief that by working together member agencies can be more effective in their approach to global mission.

Central to all that MAP does is the desire and commitment to see “mission at the heart of the local Church and the Church at the heart of mission”.

You can look up events and opportunities posted by Wycliffe and the other 44 agencies.

From time to time we will post Wycliffe news stories on the MAP website.

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Yes, here it is! A possible recipe for progressing Vision 2025


  • A Bible translator whose love of Ivorian grammar has just earned him a PhD
  • An electronics engineer who was language programmes manager in Uganda
  • A 25 year old girl who helped 10 Eastern Congo languages to produce picture dictionaries
  • A girl who helped make a hymnbook in a Cameroon language and now coordinates Wycliffe UK summer teams to Africa and Asia
  • A Belfast student who fairly bubbled while sharing her summer team experience in Burkina Faso
  • A former History teacher with a passion that everyone should hear the Bible in their heart language

Mix together on a Saturday in Belfast… or anywhere in the UK for that matter. Then add:

  • An IT software guy wanting to explore how he can use his skills
  • A German speaking tourist board worker
  • A dentist with a growing interest in Bible translation
  • A Maths student
  • A student teacher
  • A Polish ESL teacher / translator / interpreter / dancer
  • A classroom assistant / Christian Aid volunteer
  • A guy with a love for the Ulster Scots language
  • A worker in a women’s aid refuge who wants to help Wycliffe
  • A languages and linguistics student with a love for Africa
  • A girl with a Masters in Banking who made the tea & coffee

Let them all share their stories… have some fun… pray!

Leave to settle… and then be stirred by the Holy Spirit – and who knows how many will get involved with Wycliffe UK – praying, giving, going, telling God’s Story that everyone needs to hear in their heart language!

Jesus said to his disciples:

“As the father has sent me so am I sending you.” John 20:21

“Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:38

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Application forms for Wycliffe Engage 2010 summer teams went live on the website very recently – and it prompted 2009 Cameroon Engage team member Ben to take up his pen…

I saw recently that the application forms for Engage 2010 are available and it prompted me to write something about why I think Engage is so good and why I think people should do it!

"Meeting people who have to constantly battle to just live a life as a Christian and still want to tell everyone about Jesus is powerful."
Why do Engage? Because it’s amazing, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll see God move in amazing ways. It’s affected me in such a positive way and really grown my relationship with God massively!

Then just last Saturday, at our Wycliffe and Me day in Belfast, Lyndsey shared about her experience on the 2009 Burkina Faso Engage team. Her enthusiasm was so infectious, I wanted to apply myself!


Stanislas explains to the girls about his work

Stanislas explains to the girls about his work

Read the rest of Ben’s article here.

Read about the 2009 Burkina Faso team here and here.

Provisionally, teams will visit Cambodia and Cameroon during the summer of 2010.  We also hope to offer a third trip. Find out more here.

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Eddie Arthur recently posted a blog under the title Am I a Dinosaur?

Some things take a long time. Bible translation is an excellent example of a facet of mission work which involves a long term commitment. Some missionaries are directly involved in translating … and others are involved in training or consulting, but all of these roles take a significant number of years.

He was commenting on another blog which was discussing whether or not long term missionaries were becoming obsolete. This blog gave three excellent reasons why long term mission engagement is still needed.

The Numbers Argument
Long-term missionaries are still necessary in many places in the world today because in many places there are an insufficient numbers of Christians, mature Christian leaders, and churches to carry out the task of evangelizing their own people…

The Cultural Contextualization Argument
…In cross-cultural teaching and discipleship, it is necessary to understand where people are coming from in order to most effectively help them to understand and apply the Bible accurately. Prepackaged Bible teaching from a Western perspective, addressing the issues of the Western church, and geared towards listeners from a Western background is going to be limited in its effectiveness because it fails to address many of the challenges and issues that Christians in other parts of the world are facing. I am not saying that such teaching is completely ineffective but merely that it is often limited in its effectiveness and is likely not as effective as its teachers believe it to be. Such training by short-term foreign missionaries can be helpful but it is short-sighted to see such training courses as the only necessary strategy in foreign missions today.

The Incarnation Argument
Besides the above practical arguments, there is the Biblical argument from the incarnation of Christ. Jesus Christ descended from heaven and became a first century A.D. Jewish man. He entered into history in a specific time, specific place, with a specific identity. Jesus took part in the life, language, and culture of first century Judaism and all his teaching was appropriately geared to the background and understanding of his listeners.

But Eddie also plugged the opportunities available for short term experience with Wycliffe Bible Translators UK.

Wycliffe Engage teams give a great insight into the work of translating and are a huge encouragement to all involved, but Scripture translation can not be accomplished by summer teams. It takes a long term involvement of a team of people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures to see God’s Word made available.

You can read other blogs on this or related topics here and here

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Wycliffe Bible Translators UK has sent three all age Engage summer teams overseas this year: one to Cambodia in partnership with Action Cambodia; one to Burkina Faso; and the third which will return from Cameroon in a few days time. We believe that these teams have been successful, but we will certainly be reviewing the feedback and learning for the future in the light of much debate worldwide about short term mission.


Ben showing kids photos of his family

Wycliffe UK Director Eddie Arthur has posted an insightful blog on this topic.

Short term mission teams are an important aspect of the life of an organisation like Wycliffe Bible Translators. Most people who become involved in mission long-term start off making a short term visit to the field with a summer team of some sort. (Read more)

Eddie’s blog also quotes colleague Phil Prior’s provocative challenge for western churches to re-assess what they may be offering to African or Asian churches in the light of… what if the western church got a similar communication from overseas?

Don’t start by thinking about what it’s like in some African village to have a visit like this. Think what it would do in your church. What’s this saying? You can’t take care of your own people? You don’t know enough to teach the people? You don’t have a different group for the children, they go with the adults, so should you start something for my visit? What about the building, if someone else builds it is it yours? Then how to look after a group of 20 people in a different culture? And when you welcome guests isn’t it polite to offer a meal, so that’s 21 people to cater for?

You’ll need to read the whole of Phil’s blog What on earth are we doing with mission? to fully understand this comment – but it really is food for thought.

Meanwhile we have got some excellent feedback from a translator colleague who has been hosting the Cameroon team on the Ndop Plain:

“Praise the Lord for help with the first two weeks of the Engage Team. The children’s clubs in Bambalang went well. They were well attended, and the children received the message well. In the second week, part of the team assisted in the three day teacher training workshop held in Ndop. There were 30 participants from 9 languages, and the technical and general logistical support that the team provided was invaluable. The workshop would not have been possible without them. This is the final week and the team are running a further four day children’s club. They have also been using the ‘Sabre’ based recorded scriptures around the local compounds, playing the Christmas Story. We are excited at being able to teach consultant-approved memory verses from translated scripture. Pray for the club, for a good debrief in Mbingo and for safe travel to Yaounde and onward.”

So if you want to find out if a Wycliffe UK Engage team is a worthwhile thing to do both for the team participants and the local host communities, you could start by browsing the Engage pages on our website.

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