PJ Holmertz, AIM’s International Short Term Programme Director, discusses the benefits of using a mission agency to organise a short term mission trip for individuals or teams.
Along with the advent of the internet has come a new wave of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Now with a quick Google search or a few YouTube videos, you too can make a wedding cake, spice rack, or whatever your heart desires! However, along with the new DIY movement has also come a flood of DIY fails. A failed DIY attempt at a fancy cake is disappointing; a failed attempt at a DIY mission trip could be disastrous! While it is possible to arrange your own short term mission trip, there are still many reasons why it is valuable to go through an agency.
Recently I conducted some training for new short term missionaries. One of the participants commented, “Before I came I thought, ‘Why should I spend all of this time and money to learn about missions, just send me out!’ Now that I’ve done the training I think everyone should do it.” The old saying, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ applies to mission work as well. You may be a well-meaning and sincere believer who just wants to reflect the love of Jesus and proclaim biblical truth, but without an understanding of the context, the people and the culture, your efforts can do the exact opposite of what you were hoping. A mission agency will give a proper orientation to those going out on the mission field even for a short time. Years of collective experience working in a particular context gives agencies the ability to coach interested short termers on the ins-and-outs of life and ministry in that location and prepare them to be effective as they serve.
The make or break of ministry
Once a short termer gets to the field, no matter how much they think they have prepared or how much they have been orientated, they are bound to run into confusing or even potentially dangerous situations. This is where the support of an agency is critical, with personnel available to walk you through your time on the field, people to mentor, advise and encourage. It also means having access to resources that have been developed over years of ongoing ministry. Short termers serving with AIM have access to our flight services, financial services, counselling services, travel services, guesthouses and administrative workforce in all of our locations. These resources can make or break cross-cultural ministry trip.
The old African proverb states, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.’ Most people want their time and service to mean something, to have a lasting impact. Going with an agency allows you to go together with like minded individuals, working towards a shared goal. The best way to make an impact is to participate in something that will continue after your service is finished. Working with an agency ensures that there will be people who will continue the work you invested your time and energy into. Your service will amplify the effects of the ongoing work in a location rather than being a one time hit and run.