Paul and Helen are missionaries living with their children in Kotido, northern Uganda, but they previously served as short termers too. We thought they’d be the perfect people to ask whether short term mission actually helps long term missionaries?
Yes! – when it is done well. Having been short termers ourselves, then having had several short termers come to serve with us in Kotido, we have found it to be an incredibly helpful tool for everyone involved. Generally, short term mission works well if it’s done in the context of long term mission. For example, if it’s to specifically support the long termers spiritually or emotionally, or if it’s to bring in skills that are not available from the local community, such as a trainer in particular skills or a homeschool teacher. Short term missionaries can look at the situation that you’re serving in with fresh eyes, and bring new ideas or ways of doing things to the table.
“To have other gospel workers with our team was both challenging (in a good way!) and uplifting.”
Bringing extra skills
We have been the happy recipients of a short term family of six to Kotido for one year, and it was incredibly encouraging. To have other gospel workers with our team was both challenging (in a good way!) and uplifting. The extra emotional and spiritual support to our team was appreciated, and the short termers brought skills to our situation that we had not previously had – like the ability to make friends with almost every single market trader and know them by name! We also had another AIM missionary visit us for 10 days and run an ethnomusicology workshop with some of us and interested locals. This inspired us and the Karimojong so much that songs are still being created by the rural congregations using the methods taught in the sessions. We are now excitedly awaiting the arrival of another short term missionary to join our team in Kotido as a homeschool teacher!
Done badly, it can become about the short termer and their wants, or it can become too much work for the long termers. But done well, the long-termers are left refreshed and encouraged, the short termers inspired to consider future long term mission and the local ministry strengthened. Our original Kotido team of five adults and three children was made up entirely of people who had previously done short term trips of between one year and a couple of weeks. As long term missionaries, it is an honour and a pleasure to be a part of inspiring people to consider joining those already on the field in reaching the unreached for Christ.