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

Archive for March, 2012

Driven by God’s Heart

Monday, March 26th, 2012

By David Armstrong

Why does M-DAT work so hard to connect people with missions opportunities? Why do we try to match up 20,000 people a month with a mission trip that fits them? Why do we connect 5,000 people a month with answers to their questions about missions and how to be involved longer term?

There is one reason more than any other that drives us, and that is God’s heart for the nations! Everywhere I turn in the Old Testament and New Testament I am amazed, and gratified, to see God’s heart for all nations woven into the events being recorded.

In Gen 12:3 as he blesses Abraham, God said “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you,” His blessing of Abraham was meant to be a blessing to all people on earth, not just Abraham’s descendants.

In 1 Kings 8:41-55 as Solomon dedicates the new temple he specifically mentions foreigners: “as for the foreigner who … has come from a distant land because of your name … when they come and pray … do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you …” Solomon understood God’s heart and realized the Temple wasn’t just for those of Israel. He clearly understood that it was for the benefit of all peoples.

In Mark 11:17 Jesus refers to the well known verse from Isaiah 56, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” So often we remember the “will be called a house of prayer” but we forget the phrase “for all nations.” It was to be available and welcoming to all peoples, and the prayers offered there were to be for the benefit of all nations.

And then in Rev 7:9 John saw “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” In time we will stand with our brothers from every tribe, nation and tongue praising God for the great salvation he has provided.

We tend to think of ourselves and our nation, but God has His eyes on all nations and peoples and longs for them to know Him. That is why the M-DAT team focuses on helping people take their next step in missions involvement!

Trends in Short-Term Missions

Monday, March 26th, 2012

by David Armstrong

“I’m calling from Mexico City and am wondering about what is happening with short-term missions in Mexico, especially with medical and religious trips.” Tim, a reporter with the McClatchy Newspaper Group living in Mexico City, was trying to understand some of the trends in mission trips and had been referred to M-DAT by a medical NGO. Yes, mission trips to Mexico are changing big time! The drug problems and violence along the borders have had a significant negative impact on mission trips.

Each spring we track, analyze and report to the mission community the patterns we see in the 80,000+ searches performed on ShortTermMissions.com. From 2000 through 2009 Mexico was always the most searched for country after the United States. But in 2010, Mexico dropped to tenth place and last spring it dropped to fourteenth place. Prompted by Tim’s call, I pulled up the traffic for this past fall and discovered that Mexico has dropped to number 24 in search popularity. That is a very large and very fast shift in interest. It is the magnitude of shift we saw in 2010 when a catastrophic earthquake devastated Haiti. Haiti quickly moved to the top of the chart.

With access to search data which no one else has, M-DAT is uniquely positioned to spot trends and patterns in short-term missions. We gladly field questions and share what we see with mission organizations and the general public. It is one of the many ways we help the mission community as they serve the larger Body of Christ.

Follow-Through for a Home Run

Monday, March 26th, 2012

A new resource M-DAT partnered on is helping mission trip participants live life on mission after the trip ends.

By M-DAT Executive Director

We finished teaching our last English class. The team held a debriefing session, then we packed our bags for the flight home. Boarding a flight from Central Asia was the final step. The mission trip had ended. Or had it?

The on-field portion of the trip was over but the work God was doing in our lives was still going strong. Upon returning home from a mission trip the tendency is to resume life where it left off–old habits, schedules, priorities and all. The resolve for change in the areas the Spirit nudges about during the mission trip quickly fades.

Just like good baseball players follow-through their swing to garner the power to hit a home run, building follow-through into mission trips increases the impact of the experience on the participant’s life and guides them forward on their faith journey. Follow-through happens in the weeks and months after coming home from a mission trip. It goes deeper than a debrief in that it not only helps a person process the mission trip it helps them discover how to live life on mission whether at home or on the field. Follow-through extends the moldable phase of the mission trip, allowing a longer period of time for growth to occur.

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Prayer, News, and Gratitude

Monday, March 26th, 2012
  • Over the last three months 30,000 people looked at mission trip details on ShortTermMissions.com. 2,000 of these filled out a form inquiring about a a specific trip. Pray for those going out this summer and those they will be ministering to. Pray for a strong witness for Christ, a clear presentation of the gospel and that lives would be transformed.
  •  M-DAT will hold its annual board retreat Mar. 29-Apr. 1 for three days of prayer, review, and ministry planning. Pray for safety in travel, good interaction, and clear direction. We recognize the ministry is the Lord’s and desire for His will to be accomplished here.
  • Praise for the launch of The Next Mile E-Zine and the good reception so far. Pray that God would use it to help people live life on mission even after their mission trip is over.
  • We’ve added a mission trip resource directory to ShortTermMissions.com. This will serve to make people aware of helpful resources for their mission trip as well as help cover the cost of providing our web services.
  • We’re hiring a part-time agency services manager. Ask God to provide a person with the right skill-set who will be a good fit for the position and ministry.
  • We’re working to make our websites mobile friendly. The first site that will get the overhaul will be ShortTermMissions.com. Pray for the design process and that the resulting product will enable us to meet the needs of our growing mobile user base.

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