For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matthew 25:35-36, ESV).
Do Short-Term Missionaries Make a Difference?
Recently, a short-term team from Peace River Bible Institute in Sexsmith, Alberta, visited Malawi. This team of students ministered to various groups, conducting 11 children’s programs, visiting 154 homes, distributing blankets for the upcoming cold season, offering 6 women’s ministry programs, providing 500 dresses for young girls, and holding puppet evangelism training, sports evangelism programs and youth teaching. The highlight of the trip was visiting people in homes and villages, learning about their lives and culture. It was a blessing to see the joy on the faces of those visited.
Do short-term teams really make a difference? Or would it be better for churches and donors to just send money? Experience teaches that there is no substitute for Christian men and women answering the call of going and visiting, whether in their hometown or in a rural village of a developing country. As Christians we cannot deny the fact that Jesus has asked us to actively go and minister to those who are in need. Short termers not only can minister to the people of a different culture, but can also be an encouragement to the missionaries there as they see the joy of ministry through the fresh eyes of the visitors. On the Malawi field a team even went specifically to repair ministry vehicles! No amount of money sent can buy the joy and excitement of ministering firsthand.
How Have Short-term Teams Impacted Lives in Rural Malawi?
Leadership Development Over the past 8 years short-term missionaries like Dr. Gary Rieben have provided biblical training to rural church leaders. Gary has taught on many different subjects and has come to love the Malawian people. Others, like Pastor Brian Boone, have come to bring different styles of teaching such as Walk through the Old Testament, to get leaders to enjoy opening up the Word of God. Each of these leaders also raised the awareness of the need for Bibles in the churches and in the past 2 years distributed over 1000 Bibles in the Ntcheu district alone. Another team from Port Angeles, Washington, also helped put on marriage seminars in villages.
Child Evangelism Bringing the gospel of Christ to the children of rural Malawi has been one of the highlights of ACTION Malawi’s ministry. People like Rich and Marla Husby, and college teams such as Millar College of the Bible from Pambrun, Saskatchewan, and this year’s Peace River Bible Institute team have brought joy to the hearts of many of the Malawian children. The teams train leaders how to share their faith and do puppet ministry. There is a great need to take the message of the creator God and his love for the Malawian people, and the people are eager to receive the message. In past years Pastor Jon Fodge and his family helped with a Bible camp for 1400 children in Kuyenda village. He also did a creation seminar with youth in the Ntcheu district. Teaching that God had created all things in the 7 days of creation was something new to the high school youth.
Visitation and Assistance of the Orphans and Widows Many people use the excuse that they have no training to do missions work and therefore would be ineffective in showing the love of God. But if one is willing to visit folks in their home, take them a gift, and show a genuine interest in their lives, it will do more for God’s glory than preaching any sermon or leading any Bible study. Jesus said “I was sick and you visited me.” Doing door-to-door home visitation has opened many doors to the hearts of the Malawian people. Not only this, but it gives one insight into the lives and hearts of these people. Another team did a building project for the needy, building 2 houses and remodeling several others in a 2-week trip.
If you or your church is interested in fielding a team, please contact the ACTION office in your country.
From the October 2012 ACTION Newsletter