|Our first team to serve with Pastor Raul|
It was late at night when we arrived in front of the small church in Zapopan, just outside of Guadalajara in 1998. Instead of the big welcome for the missionaries from America, the place was dark, locked up and looked deserted.
Soon someone came by and asked if we were the people people that were coming to serve their church for a week. When we answered yes, they told us to follow them.
We carried our bags for about a mile across dirt roads destroyed by the summer storms of Guadalajara until we arrived at a house, were fed, and then told where to sleep.
The next morning we went to the church to await Pastor Raul and prepare for our Outreach Club with the kids of Colonia Paraisos del Colli.
The next year we returned to serve with Pastor Raul again. To a much better welcome. Because they knew and were beginning to trust us.
We returned again the next year and then almost annually after that.
We are still returning to that small church... in fact I am writing today from Raul's house, 14 years later.
I arrived yesterday from Oaxaca where a small group from that church in Zapopan came to help us with a camp we helped facilitate for kids from the Amatlanes and San Baltazar Guelavila.
Now that may not sound like such a big deal until you realize that the group that came to serve in Oaxaca with us became friends, learned to serve, and play music as part of our short-term mission work with their small church in Zapopan, just outside of Guadalajara.
And that happened not because we went there once, but because we invested in their church and their families and lives even though it was hard and our first experiences were pretty rough.
Adventures in Life Ministry has always believed that effective ministry comes through long-term committed relationships built on a foundation of Jesus Christ.
This last week, having those same kids serve with us as grown ups, was a gift from God. It is not everyday that you get to see your Kingdom investment in people pay off.
But we did! Because we believe that long term impact comes with long term involvement and partnership.
Effective short-term mission needs to happen over the long-term to make a real Kingdom difference in the communities we are serving. One and done mission trips do little to really invest in people or contribute to long term solutions and are in fact at the root of much of the criticism of short-term mission.
If, as you seek out short-term mission opportunities, you look for partners who know and believe in long-term investment, perhaps one day you too will get a chance to see the eternal results of your short-term mission.