Short Term Missions – are they worth it?


By: Jack Hempfling

“This short term mission trip is an awful lot of money” comes the thought! You may have encountered the school of thought out there in some Christian circles that says wealthy nations should send their money, and NOT people on short term mission trips. “After all,” the logic concludes, “the nationals can do so much more with that amount of money than you can.”

There is just one major problem with that “logical” view. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God inhabits money! God dwells in people! He said “Go,” He is sending you, and has promised to go with you.

I have seen gunky, stinky, undoubtedly “disease infested” third world water turned to fresh clean water by the same Jesus who changed water into wine, for the benefit of a team of average American citizens who simply gave themselves to a building project in a poor colonia in North Mexico. I have seen churches established, people healed, the presence of God provide sovereign protection, deliverance from all kinds of darkness, all occurring through the lives and hands of willing short-term missionaries who perhaps could have erected more cement blocks by sending their cash. Miraculous signs will “follow” you who believe, the Bible says; they can’t follow a sitting object, and they follow YOU, not your cash. I have come to expect a “following” when we obey the command to “go,” a following of God’s divine protection, grace, provision, eternal fruit, and miracles.

God has placed something in you that can never dwell in a currency, and that is a deposit of Himself.

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NKJV

As I boarded the plane last week, I was feeling “behind on some long-dormant projects. It was a week that had been planned for months. The busy schedule was all mapped out for us, and I was thinking that the only time I had to “work” on these projects would be with my laptop open on the plane trip itself. “Hours of freedom from electronic communication!” Imagine my surprise when all three legs of the trip put me next to people who needed to talk and draw from the Gospel of Christ.

Should we be surprised by such divine appointments “as we go?” As Jesus was traveling to one place, He paused to minister to a Samaritan woman who led her entire village to Christ.

How many times, “as we go,” has God arranged for divine appointments along the way, with eternal impacts that only the Lord can now fully measure?

Jesus also said “Go” because one person has the strength from God that another person needs. We in this country need the strength that God has deposited in Christians from other parts of the world, and vice versa. You are being sent to places where you are going to pray, preach, sing, testify, build, or train leaders like only you can do. No dollar can do it. You are going to meet people and form relationships that no amount of money can accomplish.

The bottom line is this:

Does God have the necessary resources to see His own commands fulfilled or not?

Economic markets rise and fall, but God has no shortage of dollar bills, pesos, pounds, schillings, and other currencies. The Bible says that the earth is His and the fullness thereof. In other words: it all belongs to Him. His bank account is unlimited, although He does sometimes have a shortage of obedient servants who will go into all the world.

The Lord spoke to me once to train pastors on short-term missions in two impoverished nations. My logical mind thought “That sounds crazy. They can’t afford doing missions themselves,” but I obeyed and challenged them to begin doing what they could afford, like sending teams across the city or to neighboring villages. As they did what they could do, I assured them that God would open more doors.

I myself was shocked only a few years later, when I found some of these pastors bringing teams to my country on short-term mission trips! One pastor came up to me and said “I remember you! You taught us about going, and we’re doing what you taught us.”

I am not saying that we shouldn’t also support those people and ministries that facilitate the gospel spreading within people groups, but don’t let the logic of human reasoning overstep the clear command of Scripture, and keep going with joy!

Jack Hempfling is Pastor of Living Waters Church, LeRoy, New York

Author: Before You Go, a 40 Day Devotional to Prepare for a Short Term Mission
Available in Paperback and E-Versions, from CBD and Xulon Press
Spanish Version Antes De Ir just released, available on Amazon


One thought on “Short Term Missions – are they worth it?

  1. It’s good, Brian. Especially at a time when we’re faced with the administration of what these “short-termers” bring!

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