The knock on short-term mission trips is that sometimes they do more harm than good to the local people. Fully understanding the needs of the local people requires the development of strong relationships with them. Learning the language, culture and community takes time and there are no short cuts. This is why it’s important to incorporate short-term missions into a long-term program. Short-term mission trip teams should work closely with either long-term missionaries on the ground or directly with the local people as part of a long-term program.
If a short term mission team is working with long-term missionaries, their energy and resources should be applied to supporting those missionaries and not as a separate strategy. The short-term teams should be a source of much-needed encouragement to the long-term missionaries. They can also help them evaluate their efforts from a new perspective, which may lead to channeling those efforts in other directions.
If a mission team is working directly with the local people, it’s important for their mission to serve an actual need – something they can’t do themselves. Their mission shouldn’t rob the local people of their dignity or foster a cycle of dependence. The result of the mission should be to empower the local people so they can effectively continue after the team leaves.
In addition to optimizing the benefits of the short-term mission for the local people, the mission team benefits as well. Often the lives of many short-term mission trip team members change upon their return. Short-term missions have helped team members grow closer to God and fellow team members, and to better understand people throughout the world. Many short-term missions engage in more intense evangelism and discipleship activity than is experienced at home. As a result, some participants have become better equipped to impact their own community and others have become career missionaries.
In addition to following a proven strategy, thorough preparation is a key factor in the success of short-term mission trips. This includes preparing team members with proper motivation for service, creating awareness of the cultural differences and learning how to work together as a team. It also includes anticipating the unexpected, preparing for emergencies and creating contingency plans. Being prepared for medical emergencies, illnesses or possibly evacuation is a necessary part of planning the trip. We've created a mission trip checklist to help you.
After 15 years as Director of Short-Term Missions for his organization, Daniel is returning to the field in Uganda. During his transition, Daniel makes time to write some guidance for his successor so both the local people overseas and future mission teams can benefit from his experience. He emphasizes the importance of each team member buying a short term travel health insurance policy to cover them while on the trip, because their current plan won’t cover them. He recommends each team member get a high-quality plan at a reasonable cost from a company that will deliver a high level of customer service when medical care is needed.
Daniel goes on to recommend Good Neighbor Insurance because they offer great plans at affordable prices, deliver excellent service, and some of their staff have lived overseas. He wants each team member to focus on their ministry knowing they have a comprehensive insurance plan at an affordable price, and they will receive excellent service. Be like Daniel and be assured your short-term mission team will have the best short-term mission trip insurance policy today.
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