Many long-term or full-time missionaries don’t like short term teams coming to visit them. Hosting a team is a lot of work, and sometimes we struggle with our day-to-day plans being interrupted. For the most part short term teams are often a blessing to those traveling as well as the missionaries they visit. As full-time missionaries we hope to inspire and encourage and guide the people who visit to consider long-term missions. W love to have groups of college and high school students visit us. We love to share how God can use them – in a very practical way – for the furtherance of His Kingdom. However, I also want to argue that short term teams can (and do) have a long term impact on the country they visit.
Our organization, Medical Mission Outreach, deals primarily in short term teams. Anywhere from 15-40 people at a time will travel for 10-12 days to a visit missionary providing ethical medical care to an underserved area. The difference with MMO is that they partner with local churches in order to point people back to the church. MMO has a strong tie to Honduras, as it was the site of some of their very first trips. Pastor Matt Goins (our pastor here in Honduras) is a good friend of Bradley Edmondson (CEO of MMO). They have partnered together for over fifteen years.
Short term missions can lead to long term results if the local church is the center – not the team. The team comes down, and although we are reaching out the community and providing humanitarian aid to many people who need help, that is not the focus. The focus in the church. We have church members there, supporting ,translating, serving, directing, and evangelizing the lost who come through the clinic doors. Even when the surgical teams come down, we share the gospel weeks before the surgeons arrive. Dr. Jason Frazer meets with each patient a few weeks before the trip. Each visit is an opportunity for the person to hear about Christ but also visit the church campus.
Our surgical center is built on church property. Each time they come for an appointment they see and rive by the church. Reminded again – the church is the focus for all that we do. We (the Frazers) personally believe that missions has one primary focus: to grow and disciple the local church. Our job, as non-pastors, is to help support that growth. Short term trips (done like MMO does) allows us to accomplish this very goal.
The long term results will not be fully measured because I believe they will continue for generations. The people who come to know Christ through these short-term trips can go on and change the trajectory of their linage. As Jason and I prayed several years ago how God would use us for missions, we did consider short term trips. We know so many good people who are involved in missions in this way – and this is fantastic. We also know that God had different plans for our family. He led us quite unexpectedly at the time, to this little Central American country to live full-time but in the context of ministering with short term teams.
The focus for all of us – those who live here – those who visit here – is the same: the church. God’s church is growing and we would love to have you be a part of it.
Make sure to check out the 2022 trip schedule here.