SSBG

A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

From the Missionary Observer

Posted by ssbg on December 7, 2005

In Praise of Long-Term Missionaries

  

Jim & Carol Plueddemann

In the last ten years, we have made repeated visits to 56 different countries. Our minds often reflect on the heroes we’ve met – highly effective long-term missionaries. We stand in awe of these enduring servants of the Lord who not only survive but thrive in the most challenging circumstances.
We appreciate their effectiveness, singles and families who have taken years to become fluent in a language, have learned to enjoy cultural differences, and have taken time to build the trust that takes decades to grow. Because of their long endurance they have been richly used of the Lord to make a powerful impact on the Kingdom through evangelism, healing the sick and planting vibrant churches.
We appreciate their long-term sacrifice. They have given up well-paying jobs to live in countries where they will never quite feel at home. Some live where they are targets of terrorists and armed robbery. Others live in the most polluted cities of the world, where malaria and AIDS are rampant. Part of the sacrifice is not being home for Christmas, birthdays and family reunions.
Yes, we understand the importance of short-term missions. Both of us had positive and influential experiences as short-term missionaries. Jim spent three months with Wycliffe in Peru, which confirmed his desire to serve long-term in missions and Carol grew up as a missionary kid in Ecuador and then spent a summer while in college with her parents, working with them with HCJB radio and church planting. Our two children have also had life-changing short-term encounters working with SIM. Our daughter Shari taught English to Somali refugees in the Chicago area, and Danny spent six months living with a Bolivian family. We thank the Lord for our excellent short-term experiences.
While short-term experiences provide valuable insights for the missionaries, and often provide important services on the field, the majority of the most critical tasks are best done by missionaries who take the time to learn the culture, learn the language and build lasting friendships. Bible translation demands years of study, friendship-building, teaching as well as translating. Cross-cultural seminary teaching requires not only academic qualifications, but a deep understanding of the needs and challenges of pastors. Mentoring local leaders is best done by people who have earned respect of lasting friendships. There is a critical need for many more long-term missionaries.
While we appreciate short-term missionaries, we wonder the ratio is balanced? It’s estimated that each year about a million short-term missionaries travel from the United States to serve cross-culturally. Compare this to about fifty thousand long term missionaries sent out from churches in the United States. We wonder if U.S. churches should be sending 5% of their missionaries as long-termers while sending 95% as short termers. Many long-term candidates become discourage and drop out because of the difficulties of raising support. Yes, we see the value of short-term missionaries but why are we sending so few who are willing and qualified to serve long-term?

Here are some suggestions
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* Those who have had short-term experiences – Ask the Lord to show you if your experiences should be a stimulus for long-term service.
* When you return from a short-term trip, work hard to communicate your experiences to the church. We realize that many of you have had life-changing experiences and few in your church seem to care.
* If, after a short-term missions experience, the Lord definitely leads you to stay home, pray fervently for missionaries, and be an example of someone who is willing to sacrifice financially to support long-term missionaries.
* If you are considering a short-term missions trip ask the Lord to touch your heart with the opportunities of long-term service.
* Church mission committees, we encourage you to make the support of long-term missionaries the backbone of your missions program. We realize that short-term missions might seem more “glitzy? but your first obligation is not to provide interesting experiences for members of the church, but ask yourself “how can our church make the most difference in the worldwide Kingdom of God?
* Long-term missionaries, hang in there. Yes, you are sacrificing much but your effectiveness for the Kingdom can grow every year you are on the field. No reward in the whole world can begin to match the commendation from Jesus “well done, good and faithful servant.?

 

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