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What really is "short-term missions"?

What really is "short-term missions"?

You may already know that I have the best job in the world. After leading outreaches and hosting short-term missions teams for over five years, I have started to notice some interesting patterns emerging. One of these relates to the perception of what STM (short-term missions) really is – and it seems to me that some people can get a little bit confused.

So here's a few notes to help you, with what STM is and isn't:


Relationships

What STM isn't:
Contrary to popular belief, “OM” does NOT stand for “Operation Marriage”, and although joining an outreach can be a great way to meet like-minded people of the opposite sex, we ask everyone who comes to France (a country renowned for its romance!) to put their search on hold.

What STM is:
Joining an outreach team for six days, three months, or even a year is a fantastic opportunity and great privilege to serve the Almighty with a bunch of cool individuals who are motivated by the same values as you, despite differences in age, language, culture and doctrine (and gender). Plus, you’ll leave for home with new friends for life; there’s nothing quite like an intensive week of service for getting to know your team intimately and forming life-long relationships


A Holiday

What STM isn't...
If you come to France, you have to see the Eiffel tower – or so you would believe. It’s starting to be almost funny the number of requests from people who want to come and “do missions” but, if faced with a range of choices, really feel “called” to Paris.

What STM is...
One of the joys of working with a French church is getting to know and appreciate a little of the local culture – the delightful and hospitable people, the incredible range of different local dishes, the spectacular and varied landscapes, and of course, the historical architecture. 


Rest

What STM isn't...
Actually, to be fair, there are not many people I meet who come with this in mind. Occasionally, though, I’ll hear a remark like “It would have been nice to have some more downtime."

What STM is...
You are almost always guaranteed a packed schedule, especially on a one-week outreach--Bible study, worship, training, socialising, meals, and evangelism of all kinds. The goal is to be as effective as we can in a short space of time, so get plenty of rest in advance!


Accommodation

What STM isn't...
"What? No beds? One bathroom for ten people? No A/C? This isn’t what I signed up for!"

What STM is...
Yes, you might end up on a mattress on the floor. You may have to limit your shower-time. Our goal is to work with local churches and support them in their outreach efforts, and this sometimes means making some sacrifices, but it’s all worth it in the end.
 

Revival

What STM isn't...
It’s great to have high expectations and lots of faith, but the reality is that during STM, very few people turn to Christ. In a culture where a very high importance is placed on relationship and trust, it takes many non-believers years of contact and hearing the Gospel before they make any kind of commitment.

What STM is...
Regardless of the number of “converts” in the week, it is always amazing to see God working in God’s way, which is so much better than we could imagine. Be prepared to see lives changed and for one of those lives to be yours!


Though this is, by no means, an exhaustive list, hopefully, you'll find this helpful when you take your short-term mission trip!

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