I recently read a piece on Short-Term Missions that my friend Andy LeBreche had recommended is was by Ramon Lull written in his blog DesiringGod.
I have included the link http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/there-s-nothing-short-about-short-term-missions. Lull has presented a perspective that had been eluding me and I believe many others.
What Lull puts forth is the idea that short term missionaries are not and can not be properly equipped or trained to have a significant impact on the people in the cities and countries they are visiting. Significant change takes years, even decades. Through my short time in the field I have come to believe this and therefore I have been asking myself this question “how can I serve and make a difference”? In Lull’s blog he recommends that short-term, meaning less than decades, should go into the field with the motivation to support the efforts and uplift the spirits of those that have committed their lives to missions. If you find this concept interesting or if you think it is flawed please read the entire blog and then form your opinion, don’t rely solely on my feeble writings.
In addition to learning from Mr. Lull’s blog there is another book from which I have learned much, the Bible. And during the past month as I have sought the Holy Spirits guidance as to how I can be the most efficient servant as a missionary, He has guided me to many scriptures regarding the need to be a servant to others.
Combining these lessons with prayer and actual hands on, in the field experience, and I believe I have found my calling here in Rome. I can provide support, prayers and care to those here serving God as long term missionaries. This frees them to do more of the work that they have trained years for.
The other part of this lesson for me was learning the importance of serving God’s more needy children by simply doing the labor required to bring basic support services to those in need. In Mark’s gospel 9:35 he tells us… Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” This message seemed to be coming at me from every direction, no doubt the work of the Holy Spirit.
I began to embrace the tasks before me, making large pots of tea, washing and drying dishes, sweeping, mopping, setting up and take down tables and chairs and passing out clothing and toiletries. Since moving more in the direction God was leading me I have seen a marked increase in both verbal and facial expressions of gratitude from those I came to serve.
But it doesn’t stop there, not only have the refugees reacted more positive but so have others. I have had more people ask me what am I doing in Rome than ever before. This opens the door for me to share my faith and how Gods love has blessed my life. It is so exciting to see the baffled looks and share with them the news that “God loves you the same as He loves me.” I have always read that when you submit to and truly follow the will of God things will happen around you that will confirm what your are doing is for the good of God’s kingdom. I have that feeling.
Being one that believes God is the Great Coordinator it has been interesting how people have reacted to Val not being here with me. I have been asked by several people doesn’t your wife mind you coming to Rome to do mission work? Or people have said I could never be alone for that long. My favorite is “you and your wife are willing to be apart just to serve other people.”
Do you suppose God was intending for our commitment to each other and our love and understanding of what we both need to do at this time to be an example to others? It sure seems that way to me.
I am looking forward to the next three months in Rome. We will just have to wait and see where it goes from there.
Your friend in Christ, Mark
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. – Romans 8:28