A short trip really can make a big difference

Tucker Ficklin

I’ve been on plenty of short-term mission trips, but the comments and questions I get still make me feel insecure, naive, and a little resentful. 

“Oh, you’re going on a mission trip? For how long?”

“I don’t really know how I feel about short-term missions, but I’m sure that’ll be a great experience!”

“I would rather donate to vocational missionaries who are making a long-term impact, but I hope it goes well for you.”

I went on my first mission trip almost eight years ago. I thought perhaps the people around me at that time just didn’t understand. Since then, I started working in full-time ministry and moved to a different city, yet the confusion about short-term missions remains. 

Are short-term mission trips worth it? My answer is yes. 

Your short-term trip can have a long-term impact. 

As I’ve grown in my faith and been given more opportunities to go on mission trips, it is more clear to me now than ever before that the Great Commission in Matthew 28 doesn’t have a timeline. God can use any amount of time, any conversation, and any act of service for His kingdom. We just have to obey. 

We Are Responsible for Our Obedience

I would be lying if I said other people’s comments never distorted my view on missions, too. In November 2017, I returned from a mission trip in Thailand, and all of these questions still stirred in my head. 

I knew a lot about the organization we were going with, and I knew the work my team was doing was going to be worthwhile. Still, I was sitting on the plane wondering how I was going to prove to everyone back home that flying to the other side of the world was going to be warranted somehow. 

"Am I really a hypocrite? Maybe they’re right, and the people that live here are the only ones making an actual difference.”

“Was it a mistake to give up Thanksgiving with my family for this trip?”

At that moment, all of the questions were pushed away and God said to me, “Your obedience is what matters. Let me do the rest.”

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

So that’s what I did. I followed the Great Commission’s commandment to go and make disciples, trusting God to give me opportunities to reach someone and share the Gospel. 

Our team was split up into multiple stations with students at different Buddhist and Muslim schools. As students came through, we played games to break the ice and teach them some English, taught them a Bible story, made crafts to help them remember the story, and sang songs about Jesus. I was a member of the games team. Even though I wasn’t directly sharing a Bible story or songs about Jesus, I trusted God that He would give me opportunities to see Him work. And He did! 

I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a group of high school students who had never heard the name Jesus. They didn’t even know what the Bible was! Now, I get to pray that because they have heard Jesus’ name they will begin to see Him working in their lives. God can take a small act of obedience, amid doubt, and use it for His glory.

God Is Responsible for the Results

Just because you will only be spending a short amount of time on the mission field does not mean that your time is not worthwhile. Your short-term trip can have a long-term impact. 

One of our local leaders in Thailand became a Christian because of a short-term mission team coming to share the Gospel with her. Because of this, she was plugged into the Christian school that brought the team over. Now, she is living a missional life for Christ in Thailand — a country where less than 1 percent of the population is Christian. You really never know how God can work through anything you do! 

Have people taken glorified vacations in the name of missions? Of course. 

Does that mean that God cannot use your efforts to share the Gospel to bring glory to His name among the nations? Absolutely not. 

Our God is greater than our cynicism, doubt, and worries about what makes sense. He can use your short-term mission trip to bring eternal glory to His name. All we have to do is obey the call to go and make disciples. 

Ready to take a mission trip of your own? See where NewSpring Missions is going next at newspring.cc/missions

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