Why do short term?

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Short term. Why do it? Is there any real value in short term overseas ministry? Many people say that short term doesn’t benefit those that they minister among, but that the benefit is more for the short termer who goes out.

These are just some of the questions and statements that we come up against as we look for short termers to go out to the unreached peoples of Africa. Short term ministry has a stigma attached to it that often paints it in a bad light. So many people simply don’t go.

Should we bother?

Why then do we persist in offering short term mission opportunities? Well, we truly believe that there is huge benefit to doing short term mission work. We don’t facilitate a short term placement purely for people to have a holiday in Africa. Instead, our short term department functions as a stepping stone and a taster for what long term mission is like. We don’t say that you can only go on short term mission if you are going to be a long term missionary in the future, but we do want to offer a short term opportunity for people to experience what missionary life is like, both the good and the bad.

We always aim to send short termers to locations where there are long termers involved in ministry. This offers short termers the opportunity to see and share in the ministries that are already in place. Part of the reason for this is that short termers can add value to these existing ministries, which are then able to be continued when the short termer leaves.

However, a big reason for short term ministry is to serve as a stepping stone to long term ministry. Results of a poll were presented at a recent short term AIM forum which showed that 100% of those under 45 years old, long term missionaries in Kenya had previously undertaken short term ministry (either with AIM or with another organisation). These results clearly highlight the importance that short term ministry offers as a taster and tester for people exploring whether God is calling them to long term ministry.

These are not the sole reasons why people should consider short term ministry but they underpin why we are passionate about seeing short term missionaries going to Africa’s unreached people groups.

Of eternal value

So what will your response be? Will you see the value of short term mission work and choose to support it? Will you encourage people to consider short term mission as they seek God’s will for their lives? Undoubtedly the debate will go about the true value of short term mission work. But if one person is saved through the work of a short termer then surely short term mission work is of eternal value as we seek to see God’s kingdom grow among Africa’s unreached people groups?

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