Learning to appreciate people cross-culturally and discovering that those going are changed more than they bring about change are two typical responses of those who participate in short-term mission trips. In other words, people often return with changed perspectives on mission, stewardship and God’s love for “the nations.” Let’s check in on some churches across our Northern Plains Region who shared in various trips this summer.
One person reflects, “We stayed in what had been the previous parsonage in Tamaseu when we taught Vacation Bible School in the Roma (Gypsy) village of Parhida. I came to realize by the second Sunday that our worshipping with the Hungarian Baptist Church was revitalizing their faith also as they thanked us profusely for coming. We weren’t there to just minister to the Roma children and to do construction (at Camp Falcon Rock), but to also bring excitement and Christian testimony from America to these fellow Christians who were hosting us.
They worked through another Hungarian Baptist Church leading a week of Vacation Bible School in the Roma villages surrounding Valea lui Mihai. Week two consisted of assisting the Gerickes in camp programming for elementary students at Camp Falcon Rock.
Pastor Jason DuPaul expressed appreciation for how the Century students “consistently stepped up and took leadership in all the ministry we did. They grew in their walk with Jesus and in their ability to lead when they were put in positions to do ministry.”
Construction projects, including painting a church inside and out, erecting a fence around the church property and tiling a new addition were done by day. In the evenings the church hosted revival services with attendance of 150-200 each night. At least one person prayed to receive Christ. Another three were baptized.
Pastor Ed shared an interesting encounter with a man who was recently released from prison for murder, kidnapping and weapons possession. “He came up to our group on the last night while we were having a meal at a restaurant, claiming to want something to eat. We talked for over an hour. I knew of him from the time we used to live in Belize. He showed me his bandana and tattoos. ‘You’re in a gang. So what?’ Eventually he let me buy him a burger and we talked some more. I shared that if he wanted to change, he needed a relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“Another interesting thing was watching these reserved kids from North Dakota get excited about inviting people to the services. They would go out into the street and invite people, handing out Bibles. The time in this different culture opened their eyes.”
“Opening eyes” was a similar response from Doug Friesen, one of the pastors at Whyte Ridge Baptist, Winnipeg. Fourteen adults of various ages spent a week much closer to home, at a First Nations community (Garden Hill) northeast of Winnipeg. This group partnered with Pathway Camp Ministries to lead a week-long Vacation Bible School.
Pastor Doug comments, “Seeing third-world conditions in our own province was heartbreaking. Many homes are in shambles and have no running water or electricity. A lack of purpose exists for many people who live there. The children were eager for love and connection with us. We are prayerfully considering next steps in loving this community towards Christ.”
Gateway, directed by Randy Schmor, provides invaluable training for groups, preparing them to reach out to different cultural groups in North America and globally. Developing relational and ministry partnerships are key to the long-term effectiveness of short-term mission interaction. Part of this NAB-sponsored training helps prepare groups regarding their goals, but also personal and team preparation for what they are likely to experience relationally, emotionally and spiritually.
Youth Pastor Kevin Schular and another adult from Whyte Ridge Baptist, took a group of four teens to Tijuana, Mexico. Under the auspices of Homes for Hope and YWAM Baja/San Diego, the WRBC group collaborated with three NAB churches from the Alberta Baptist Association (Central Baptist, Leduc Fellowship and Northgate Baptist). This is a 15-year partnership begun by Central Baptist with the purpose of engaging Canadian youth with a service and retreat mission.
Pastor Kevin observes, “Tijuana is a big city with many people who desire to serve God in various ways. We were able to see how passionate followers of Christ serve their communities by helping with the spiritual and physical needs. We were challenged by the YWAM ministry that helped train us for service during and after the trip.”
The team helped build a home for a family, as well as visiting an orphanage to see how they are building ministry with the children and employees.
Thank you for your encouragement, your prayer and financial support, your being willing to be part of what God is doing all around us, including in those next door.
Northern Plains Regional Minister