The impact of short term mission teams
For many, many years, before serving with Bread of Life, I’ve been very skeptical about short team mission teams. Although with the best possible intentions, people spend a lot of money for travelling to a country where they don’t know the language or daily practice, just to get a glimpse of the ministry they are visiting. Would they really think that their presence for just a week or so would be a help, would be beneficial instead of just be a burden or disturbance…?
Well, nobody is never too old to learn. And soon I was struck by simple observations…
The story of a boy from a village near Długa Goślina, where Bread of Life has its New Life Centre, was an eye opener: during a short time mission trip in 2016 a group of Americans from Arizona organized a children’s camp at NLC. One member of the team somehow was able to establish personal contact with the boy by just showing sincere interest. They stayed in contact after the camp, which we only learned a few years later. During a visit to the boy’s home someone saw a picture of this team member in the boy’s room… And learned that this team member just by showing personal interest was able to change the boy’s life! “Someone travelled all the way from the US to tell me that he cares. That I’m important!”
And another simple observation: who else will spread the news about our ministry, who else will become an ambassador than someone who personally witnessed what we’re doing?
Over the years practically all relations of Bread of Life have developed via people who have been personally touched, on the spot, by what we’re doing! Who else can share a story except by personal experience!?
And so in April, during our visit to Perimeter Church north of Atlanta, we were greatly encouraged to learn that they wanted to send out short term mission teams on very short notice to Poland to personally experience the work we’re doing with Ukrainian refugees. Only two and a half months of preparation… Would that work? Well, as we don’t like to say no… Of course! 🙂
And so from June 25th till July 9th we had two teams coming, one to Poznan, the other to Kalisz, to be actively involved in children’s camps for both Polish and Ukrainian kids, the cleanup properties where Bread of Life hosts refugees, to help with equipment of those places, to take part in distribution programs, or, to just be with us! To talk, to share and to enjoy!
As one could expect, impressions are priceless:
- Olena, a refugee from Ukraine, who as volunteer was responsible for the camp in Poznan, and who has been responsible for many Christian camps in Ukraine, was sharing with us, that serving together with Americans was a completely new experience: working with such an international team was a great blessing for her personally. To see that people from many different national backgrounds can work together in one spirit, in Jesus’ name was awesome!
- The diversity in both the teams was wonderful, from 10 to appr. 80 years old! To see how all ages served in their specific quality was wonderful: I hardly ever saw a mission team in which the kids and teenagers were so eager and dedicated! They really made the connection with children and teenagers from Poland and Ukraine – they have other shared languages than just their national ones! And on the other end – with the older members there was “spiritual authority” that one could sense so much!
- Next to the ages, also the specific roles in the team, planned or not, were impressive. To see prophets, prayer warriors, evangelists, organizers, interpreters, handymen… wow!
- What really struck me was the similarity between the Poznan and Kalisz team… Although completely different people on a different location, the atmosphere in the team was almost identical! With a similar diversity, with similar roles, with similar impressions and reactions after the week, and above all, with the same Spirit! This was for me the best possible confirmation that the mission teams that came from Perimeter this Summer were God sent! And came to do God’s work! And will bear God’s fruits!