26 September 2019 // Articles & Stories

Does short term mission have an impact?

Connected to prayer

This article was first featured alongside our Prayer Diary in October 2019. You can download the October 2019 prayer points here or sign-up to receive future editions by post or email.

PJ Holmertz is AIM’s International Short Term Programme Director, based in Nairobi, Kenya, with his wife Emily and their two children. PJ is responsible for AIM’s strategic thinking and planning of short term mission. He is also involved in coordinating the practical arrangements to ensure that short termers are welcomed and orientated when they arrive in Africa. He shares:

One of the strongest determining factors in the effectiveness of mission is time. Relationships, language, and culture learning all take time. The longer a missionary is in one location the better they are able to share the gospel in a way that is meaningful and accurate. The longer a missionary is involved in a community the more effectively they can demonstrate the care of Christ to that community. 

So how can short term service be helpful? 

I believe that there are two areas where short term missions are critical for the work of mission. First, short termers help by supporting the ongoing work. Second, short termers bring necessary and unique skills to fill needs on the field.

Full time missionary service can sometimes feel a little like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the hill. It can be tiresome, lonely and constant. A good short term missionary can come alongside a long term worker and help relieve some of their burdens, take up some of their responsibilities and bring a welcome change of pace. This assistance can allow a worker the time and resources that they need to make new inroads into the community. Being freed from some of their daily burdens can give them the fuel they need to continue in their important work.

“The gifts and skills God has given us don’t have a timetable or geographical range for their usefulness.”

Short term missionaries can also bring their unique skills and abilities to an area that desperately needs them. Individuals with construction knowledge, mechanical skills, medical specialities, educational abilities, and so many other talents can all be a tremendous help to teams and can open doors to more effective engagement with unreached people groups. I’ve seen God use short term concrete specialists, photographers, surgeons, teachers, and even fashion designers to open new avenues for reaching out to unreached African people groups! The gifts and skills God has given us don’t have a timetable or geographical range for their usefulness. There could be a community or worker right now in Africa that needs your talents to help them be more effective in the work that God is doing.

Starting with short term

Still wondering how God can use a short termer on the mission field? For over 120 years Africa Inland Mission has boldly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ across the continent of Africa.  Millions of souls have heard the good news as a result of the faithful work of dedicated AIM missionaries working together. What if I told you the whole thing started with a short term missionary? Peter Cameron Scott, the founder of AIM, didn’t plan to be a short term missionary, but his health only allowed him 18 months of service in Africa. God was able to take that humble offering and multiply its impact infinitely. Through the tireless and ongoing efforts of the thousands of workers that followed, God used Scott’s life to begin a movement. We must never underestimate God, who can use our smallest gifts to build his kingdom.