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Short-term Mission in a Long-term Context

Last week was our biggest Oak Tree event of the year: Rock the Village. We had somewhere around 200 kids and 50 adults in and out from Monday through Friday for a huge vacation Bible school! We were outside daily from 4-6pm worshipping, doing crafts, playing games, drumming on drums, doing Zumba, watching puppets and flannel graphs and having a marvelous time!

I relished the fact that many kids were hearing the gospel as many as four times each day, even the ones that didn’t appear to be listening. I marveled in anticipation of what God could and would do with his Word that week. And now, I am in the wonderful position to watch and wait. I will keep working and preparing for the next day, the next event, but really, my work isn’t the important part. God is working and I want a front-row seat.

One of the most interesting aspects of the week for me was that just over a year ago I was on a short-term mission trip to Guatemala.

Last year I was in a foreign context, speaking another language, with people I have never met and am unlikely to ever meet again. It was wonderful and difficult all at the same time.

This year, I was in my own foreign/familiar context, speaking the same language (minus a few slang terms I’m still learning), with many people that I have known for 3 years and others that I met and am likely to meet again. Despite being in my own bed at night, the whole week felt very much like a short-term trip. I completely ignored all home tasks: laundry, cooking, vacuuming and other things like make-up and curling my hair. I talked with fewer people on the phone and had little “me” time. I had one goal for the week: to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in every word and action. What a wonderful opportunity! Suddenly, for one week, taking an hour for devotions in the morning wasn’t excessive, it was necessary. And vacuuming, not so much.

I have appreciated a week of air-conditioning and much quieter work hours now, I have caught up on laundry and I’m wearing makeup, but I am still processing and appreciating the rare opportunity that I had last week. I got to go on a short-term mission trip in my long term context. God gave me a week to remember why I am there every other week of the year: to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and action. And God can handle both giving me the words to explain substitution to children and my normal, everyday to-do list.