Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Hearing Only Half of the News

How Do We Fight Discouragement?

By David Armstrong

Hearing only half of the news can be discouraging. I experience that discouragement in reading about all the fighting, refugees, and problems in the Middle East. Tragic, painful, and seemingly hopeless—until you hear the other half.

Amazing things are taking place with God’s Kingdom in the Middle East and other places right now. Not only are individuals coming to Jesus, but there are whole church-planting movements such as have never been seen before in predominantly Muslim countries.

I just completed the 15-week Perspectives on the Worldwide Christian Movement course. If you haven’t taken that class I highly recommend it. Go to their website to find a church hosting the class near you. I was greatly encouraged by case studies about how the mission world has changed and what God has been doing in our world in the last few decades. I was also reminded that God is sending people to our neighborhoods to hear the gospel, not just sending people “over there” to share the gospel.

We experienced this first hand. Elvir was the first person to welcome us to our neighborhood. His son Asad watered our garden for us when we traveled last summer. These two are among some 60,000 Muslim Bosnians who live in St. Louis and South County, most of whom came to the US 15-20 years ago, fleeing genocide.

Though there are handful of Bosnian believers in the world, there are no Bosnian churches where the gospel is expressed in ways typical Bosnians can understand, in forms they would be comfortable with, and using the language that is part of their very being.

I discovered in conversations with Bosnians in St. Louis that they do not see themselves like Muslims in the Middle East. They are Muslim because they are Bosnian. They can’t imagine being Bosnian and not being Muslim. Want to share the gospel with them? As is so often the case, friendship is the place to begin, and prayer is the medium to see God work and open meaningful conversations.

Need some encouragement? Feel like you are left with a one-sided, negative view of world events from your usual news sources? Seek out the other side, the stories of what God is doing that most media outlets will never share with you.

  • Join a Perspectives class (or if it’s been a while, take it again!)
  • Subscribe to Missions Catalyst or other mission news publications for regular glimpses of what God is doing in the world, often behind the scenes.

Help Others Discover Their Place to Serve

Spreading the Word about M-DAT Services

By M-DAT Staff

Do you know someone thinking about a mission trip? January is the peak month for locating mission trips at If you know people who may be looking for opportunities, help spread the word!

See our website for sample text and graphics. The website also includes a variety of articles about choosing a trip, preparing to go, debriefing, and more which you may want to use as a resource and pass along to others.

You can also help those you know discover and other M-DAT services by following us on social media and sharing our posts (see below).

Like our web services, our social media streams help people move into missions.

Find on Facebook

Find on Facebook

Find on Twitter

Find on Twitter

… and M-DAT both have social media accounts on both those services as well. Look for them, too!

Extending Our Reach on Facebook

You might have noticed that even if you have “liked” an organization’s Facebook page, you may seldom see posts from that group. You can always pull up their page and catch up that way. But to regularly see posts in your feed from an organization you care about (such as your church or our ministry) you have to take a few extra steps to be sure Facebook knows you’re interested. Here’s how it works.STM FB screenshot

1. Go to the page on Facebook and scroll over the “following” button.

2. Set your preferences to “see first” and confirm that your “notifications” are on.

We would be thrilled if you would take the time to do this for and This will allow you to see more of our posts when you log onto Facebook so you can react, comment, and share them with friends. Thanks!


Prayer and Gratitude

Rejoice with us, and please be praying…

  • Pray for our director, David, as we add specialized part-timers to the M-DAT team. He now coordinates the activities of our five regular part-timers plus two more whose jobs are sporadic.
  • Pray for the ongoing programming for our web services. At times it is repetitive and time-consuming, yet the time spent is crucial to creating features that will help mission agencies share information and seekers find opportunities that fit.
  • Pray for more agencies to post their opportunities on
  • We’re grateful for Rebecca Skinner, who is initiating a new marketing and sales push. Over the last two months she lined up organizations to advertise in our 2017 newsletters, reaching two unique lists developed over the years.

Empowering Partnership

When Mike Let the Youth Lead the Meeting

By David Armstrong

The word “empowering” immediately draws to mind one of my youth leaders years ago.

Mike expected us to brainstorm and plan our weekly meetings, line up speakers, prepare everything, and make it all happen. And we did. We had never done these things before, but, because Mike said we could, we did.

We didn’t know what we didn’t know. But through regular and constant interaction, questions were asked and answered and we figured out ways to learn what we didn’t know and do what we had never done before.

We didn’t know that most youth groups were run by the leaders, not the youth. We just assumed that was our role since he said so, and we went to work on it.

I doubt that our ideas and ways were better than his, but he heard, weighed what we said and encouraged us on. We knew we had the freedom to think, experiment, and even fail. That was all just part of the process. Looking back I realize he expected us to make so many of the decisions that I don’t recall him making decisions at all, though likely he did.

Empowering also means letting go and losing control. It means allowing someone the freedom to fail coupled with being willing to stand by them whether they fail or succeed. For example, I like the idea of a family-oriented church, where kids are involved and take part and help out. Then I noticed that it bugged me when the lyrics on the screen didn’t match where we were in the worship songs we were singing. Encouraging the kids to run the worship slides was empowering to them but ended up being frustrating to me. It was then that I realized one of the inherent tensions in empowering.

If I release control and empower, it might not turn out the way I imagined. Empowering partnering involves losing control. It involves the freedom to fail. And it involves us graciously standing together when the outcome doesn’t meet expectations.

Empowering partnership. That’s one of the seven key standards of excellence in short-term missions. Excellent short-term mission trips require these kinds of empowering partnerships with the folks who receive us and our teams. Excellent long-term work does as well. Are you ready for that?

» To learn more, see The Seven Standards of Excellence.

An excellent short-term mission establishes healthy, interdependent, on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners, and is expressed by primary focus on intended receptors, plans which benefit all participants, and mutual trust and accountability.


“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence…
When the best leader’s work is done, the people will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
(Chinese philosopher Lao Tze)


Trends in Short-term Mission

More Interest in Longer Mission Trips?

We recently made a study of search and inquiry patterns related to mission trip information on the website. It suggests a greater interest in longer mission trips than we have previously seen. As in the past, most searchers seem to be looking for mission trips that are a few weeks long. During a recent 18-month period, however, we saw the number of those searching for trips at least three months long has doubled to 24 percent.

Longer mission trips offer more cross-cultural experience. They often include a stronger focus on mentoring and discipling participants and preparing them for long-term service. In the last four years we have observed a number of short-term sending agencies refocusing their efforts to provide more opportunities of this type.

Please pray with us (and the mission organizations sponsoring trips). Pray that these longer trips will continue to attract interest and accomplish much in the lives of those who go as well as those among whom they serve.

» Read Search Summary Reports.

M-DAT helps people make it to the mission field. Explore our websites:

About M-DAT | Help People Make it to the Mission Field | Donate