Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fellow Pilgrims for the Short-term or the Long-term?

This is the season when many of you go on pilgrimages called "short-term missions." There's some debate about the effectiveness of short-term verse long-term missions. I usually go on a short-term missions trip myself this time of year. A few regular volunteers go along to work with local Romany believers in Moldova. This year we won't be willing to go until September. But God knew that the children could use a summer program as well. A team from CERI just completed doing a week-long Vacation Bible School there.

Your support of our long-term presence made that short-term trip possible. Last February I went to the Ruth School (very long-term) in Budapest to work on an education project. One of the leaders of CERI was also there, working on a project with the Naomi Center (also long-term). He had met me in Moldova during one of his trips there and said if he could ever do anything for us, just let him know. Our partner there, Petru Ciochina (long-term), knew that teams from CERI sometimes provide shoes or boots for children. He could contact the CERI office in Moldova himself, but thought we would get better results if I contacted this American leader. The leader was very happy to make the connection. A group of Roma children enjoyed an afternoon program by CERI volunteers and received water-proof boots.

That connection led to the CERI volunteer team (short-term) coming this past week. They did great work. Would they have come if you had not been contributing for the last 20 years towards my long-term presence in the field? Maybe. Would they have been as effective if you had not been contributing to my long-term presence? Probably not. Because my being here is a major reason for Petru being there. And without Petru's being there, they would not have made the connections nor received an invitation to go there. 

So a big thank you to all of you who engage in short-term missions. Your pilgrimages can make lasting differences. And an even bigger thank you to all of you who support long-term missions. You make those short-term pilgrimages possible because there's a long-term presence for them to contribute to. And that long-term presence makes it possible for a week-long visit from such a team to have years-long impact. Thank you, fellow pilgrims all.

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