One of the common critiques of short-term mission trips is around the immediate and long-term impact of the mission activity. Some wonder if anything of lasting significance can be accomplished in a couple of weeks. Others question if the money spent on the cost of the mission trip could be better utilised by sending it directly to the mission field. While these are valid questions that should be given reasonable consideration, at the end of our three weeks in Indonesia I am left with the following reflective conclusions:
- We have mobilised a team of Salvationists from our Corps to actively engage in the international mission of The Salvation Army.
- We have evoked a spirit of generosity in our Corps and community to resource the vision of an overseas Corps and community.
- We have invested into the lives of 180 children and their families by helping to establish a school building more appropriate for the needs of the local community.
- We have partnered with a community by participating alongside them in a project that has laid the foundation for ongoing relationship beyond the end product.
- We have shared life with other Salvationists through local hospitality, mutual encouragement and pastoral ministry.
- We have been mutually enriched by exchanging broader perspectives of Salvationism through our respective cultural expressions and experiences.
- We have responded to unplanned ministry opportunities adding value to and alleviating stress from local leadership and discipleship initiatives.
- We have followed-up relationships established during previous trips through ministry engagement that continues to sow into the faith journey of other Salvationists.
- We have returned home better equipped with a higher level of cultural intelligence to more effectively engage cross-culturally in our Corps and community.
It is one thing to contribute to a mission by sending money but quite a different experience to commit to a mission by going and personally engaging with those on the mission field. Both can be valuable, but approached with right attitude the latter fosters a level of engagement that puts relationships ahead of the task and helps to develop a level of cultural intelligence that can integrate into mission and ministry back home.