In this season of pandemics, I would not be surprised if many of you wonder about missions. How might we fulfill or be challenged to fulfill the first two words in Matthew 28: 19 “Therefore go” in this season where airports, borders are still not 100% open and when COVID restrictions are real?
Some of you might be thinking that the possibility of boarding a plane and going to serve cross-culturally thousand of miles away may be very, very distant or never happen. The Short-Term Mission team at International Ministries is here to tell you “Lament no more. HOPE is alive. REJOICE!”
Yes, March 2020 hit us as this un-expected sink hole, where all travels from the US, as we knew it came to a stop. What has happened since, has been a re-tooling of making possible Kingdom building from everywhere to everyone, and everyone to everywhere.
Yes, STM paused, brought on board a new part-time Associate, Nicole Cox, who is in her last year at Palmer Seminary. She has been teaching us to embrace technology and the digital world. Nicole’s focus in seminary is Adaptive Leadership. God’s timing has been welcomed as we have been encouraged to lean into new lenses of seeing and experiencing missions. We grasped the moment of co-discipleship to discover the digital world while grieving the old ways, yet daring to learn new ways. It has been exciting to master the various digital platforms (Teams, Zoom and GoTo) and work with the one that is most favorable to meeting our goals at STM. We have prayerfully kept in the forefront this question “how can we be your hands and feet Lord in the midst of what seems to be chaos for us humans?”
We have also collaborated with Rev. Dr. Ann Borquist, regional consultant to Southeast Asia and Japan, and finished a revised team leader’s guide for short-term missions. Rev. Dr. Ann Borquist was the primary author to the old guide “Going with God” and now has been the primary author to Short-Term Mission Team Essentials – Together On The Journey. I have enjoyed contributing to this guide and birthing it to life with Dr. Borquist. Together On The Journey is being published by BookBaby.com. It is available for purchase. https://store.bookbaby.com/bookshop/book/index.aspx?bookURL=Short-Term-Mission-Team-Essentials-Together-On-The-Journey
God’s answers to the question above, came very clearly at the end of March, when we supported a volunteer who has been trained to teach ESL with a servant’s heart. The Apostle Paul used letters from his jail cell. We used technology. Kadie Henry, based in Ohio, provided digital ministry and was our first extended short-term volunteer for two months, as an ESL teacher to children and migrant adults in Valencia (Spain). Kadie served alongside two missionaries with our IM partner from Brazil, JAMI. They provided ESL classes three to five times a week. Kadie and the two missionaries were a life line for each other and for the children and parents based in Spain. God showed us a new way through Kadie, Maria and Marci; our servants in Spain.
Since mid June 2020, STM has been bringing missions to everyone’s living room, kitchens, classrooms, portable devices, etc.. We have facilitated virtual short-term mission experiences in Spain, The Dominican Republic, Hungary, northern Thailand and Japan. The digital airways of short-term experiences have been made possible to more than 100+ individuals. We have been able to connect volunteers, MPT members, church mission committees, pastors from our various ABC congregations and other partners to global servants and their ministries. Through the zoom platform God’s mission has been lived, heard and experienced like never before for 60 minutes or 90 minutes at a time.
We have facilitated ESL classes from Ohio to Spain, to children and migrant workers. We have visited Budapest and learned about the ministry Rev. Carmella Jones ushers at Tabitha House. We have been transformed by a music video produced by a teenager in La Romana, in The Dominican Republic. We will be traveling to Haiti and Zimbabwe in the next couple of months and learn how God is using the Mabudiga-Ngwemis and the Muteyos for Kingdom Building.
STM is currently preparing a new volunteer to serve virtually as a Resource Teacher at an after-care center. She will develop and teach staff about helpful resources and approaches to use with children with disabilities. Technology has opened new possibilities of doing ministry within a lockdown world. We are attempting to live into Matthew 28:19 for sure.
How are we preparing these volunteers? STM as an accredited member of SOE, continues to uphold pre-trip orientations and post-trip debriefings, vetting of volunteers, staying God centered in our discernment with volunteers who desire to serve cross-culturally. The online registration process is still in effect. More so than ever, we need to facilitate the depth of understanding of boundaries, confidentiality when we serve in sensitive areas of the world, assessing the cultural nuances of phrases and silences, gaging through a screen our neighbor’s cultural ways, abiding by the principles that we are God’s instruments however God decide to send us; whether it be physically, digitally or snail mail.
The joy and fulfillment of God’s mission has been renewed for all of us who are part of the Short-Term Mission team (staff and Special Assistants). May you hear and feel God’s call for you to come along and inquire and ask
“What must I do?”
Feel free to contact STM at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about up-coming Discovery trips in 2021 and/or virtual short-term experiences.