New ministry seeks to link long- and short-term missions
The mission field has often been relegated to two types of missions: short- and long-term missions. Some feel the call of God to take up permanent residence in the nations they are sent to, and to live and minister there. Others go on week- or month-long trips to help with a specific project or participate in a ministry overseas. Both types of missions are powerful in their own way, and God has used both to impact the world.
However, the majority of the Church have never gone on a missions trip or participated in missions in any significant way. Some provide financial support and prayer ministry for long-term missionaries, of course, and that is incredibly important. But even those roles are filled by only a very small percentage of Christians.
We have felt the call to minister to and assist long-term missionaries, but we also hope to motivate others. We want to get as much of the Church as possible involved in missions in some way. Hope Expeditions was birthed from this idea: take the everyday believer and give them the chance to serve and minister in unfamiliar territory. Let them not just see what God is doing around the world, but participate in it as well.
Hope Expeditions is a young ministry based in the Chicago area. We are committed to taking the Gospel of Christ to every nation by taking teams of believers on short-term trips to help long-term missionaries with their ministries. Long-term missionaries are some of the toughest and most devoted members of the Body of Christ, and it is our privilege to serve them. No matter how much support they have from home, they always have more work that needs to be done and more people to be reached. Our mission is to help missionaries fulfill theirs.
When Hope Expeditions sends a team, they are sent to serve and minister in whatever way is needed. They are given training, information, and encouragement. Most importantly, however, they learn to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to direct and sustain them. Our teams are always made up of dedicated, hard-working believers who, regardless of the limitations of their experience, are ready and willing to help in any way they can.
Short-term trips have come under plenty of criticism for many reasons. It is said that they do not leave a lasting impact or that they simply don’t foster the types of close relationships God uses among his people. Hope Expeditions is devoted to developing lasting, long-term relationships within the Body of Christ and to focusing on projects and ministries that will have an impact long after the team departs. Furthermore, we grow our relationships with the people to whom we minister and return to the same places on subsequent trips.
Our projects all have a long-term focus as well. We don’t just build churches, dig wells, fix houses, or run evangelism meetings. We foster relationships, discover the greatest needs of the people we are going to serve, and we work to meet that need, both on our trips and from home. We partner with our long-term missionary contacts to complete projects in the way they need. The goal is to serve them while getting the entire Church more involved in missions.
Going on one of these trips has a profound impact in the lives of our team members. It changes them. As one team member from last year put it: “It was so much fun and every day was packed with something. But most importantly, I grew closer to God’s people. I fell in love with helping and serving, because that’s what God has called us to do. I love people because God loves me.”
After a trip, most team members are eager to go on another. Many continue to develop and grow their new friendships with people they met and ministered to overseas, and many more continue to support missions after their trip. Some become close, long-term friends with the people they met and use social media to stay in contact. One couple has continually supported and been in close contact with a pastor they served with on a Hope Expeditions trip.
The effect on each team member is long-term. They don’t view missions as just another ministry anymore; it becomes a part of them. They tell their family, their friends, and their church. The Gospel is spread, God’s people are served and encouraged, and he is glorified through it all. We are honored to be a part of the work he is doing all around the world.
by Christopher DeLaughter, Director of Operations, Hope Expeditions