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

What They See

By David Armstrong

You never know what those who watch you will see or remember, nor what they will do with it. This week we have been spending time with Dory, who was our administrative assistant for eight years when we worked in Guatemala.

Dory had a love for teaching and worked with us as we taught in many settings. Sometimes we used “magic tricks” and illusions to teach children and youth truths and principles. It turns out that Dory has continuing to use those attention-getting methods ever since, and now her college-aged daughter is using them in her teaching as well.

That is the way God designed life to be: each of us benefits from those who came before us and passes on the best of what we have seen and heard to those who follow. We reap what others have sown and we sow for others to reap. Whether a person serves others for two weeks, two months, or two decades, and whether they work with children, youth, or adults, they are planting seeds to produce future fruit.

I remember using a set of cups and cotton balls to teach Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” When I first heard that verse I thought of it as a warning or threat, but later I came to see it also as a fantastic promise: the good that we plant in people’s lives, the godly principles that we teach, they will have a harvest that multiplies whether we are there to see it or not.

As Paul says several verses later, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in.  Luke 10:2 (CEV)

Seeking Excellence in Short-Term Missions

Since the beginnings of the short-term mission movement, ministry leaders have been meeting to share notes and think through issues and problems with a goal of doing what they do better. We all want those going out on mission trips to truly benefit spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually from their time overseas, and for those they serve and work with on the field to benefit in the same ways.

Over the years several networks have helped promote these purposes. The Fellowship of Short-Term Mission Leaders began in the early 1980’s; I attended their first conference in 1984. That group eventually gave birth to Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

For more than 30 years, the all-volunteer SOE leadership team brought lots of energy and passion, as perhaps only volunteers can. As the network matured, however, it reached a size that required more time and consistency that a group of leaders also busy with their own ministries could provide.

Last summer we announced a formal partnership between several ministries supporting the short-term missions movement, and now, as a member of the SOE Board for the last ten years, I’m happy to announce a recently completed merger between Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Missions and a larger, more developed entity, Delta Ministries, which carries a similar vision with complementary programs and staffing.

Last month the two ministries’ Boards of Directors met together to finish the formal part of the merger. The two days we spent together in Portland were very beneficial. I knew some of their Board members previously but appreciated the chance to share ideas and get a feel for each other’s work styles. I was so encouraged!

We who have carried the SOE banner for so long are delighted to see it given a more solid and broader platform. Together, we continue to push for excellence in short-term missions programs.

» Learn more about Delta Ministries and Standards of Excellence or check out some of their great resources:

Short-Term Missions webinars

Standards Introductory Workshops

Short-Term Missions 101 online course

The Next Mile training resources

 

Survey of Services Used by Mission Trip Providers

Need a travel agent, or have a question about insurance or screening for a mission team? A recent survey of ministries listing mission trips with ShortTermMissions.com asked about their use of travel agencies, insurance providers, and background check services. Fifty-one ministries responded to the survey.

» See full results with links.

Prayer and Gratitude

Rejoice with us, and please be praying…

Lord, we thank you for the opportunity to reconnect with Dory and from what you are doing through her to build up your church in Guatemala. We pray for our friends at Delta Ministries as they continue to steward the work you have done through Standards of Excellence and take it to the next level. And we cry out to you to continue raising up and equipping workers for your global harvest. 

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.

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