Which is Better?

While on this vision trip in Africa, I started thinking about short (0-2 years) and long-term mission trips (2 year and longer). To me, it seems that although the purpose of each is the same: to improve the lives of the indigenous, each serves a different function. Short-term mission trips change the people who go on the mission trip by leaving a lasting impression on those who went to serve, while long-term missions is more for the nationals.

Let me use my one week mission trip to Haiti as an example of a short-term trip. Three of the people, including myself, that traveled to Haiti returned home feeling as though they wanted to become missionaries. We did many worthwhile things, such as give away clothing and food, conduct two days of vacation bible school, and help with the building of a school room. We met many Haitians, and I fondly remember a quiet boy named Abner who was my age and allowed me to meet his family and look inside his two-room home. I have another fond memory of the children crowding around me so they could all stroke my smooth, silky hair. My heart was touched in many ways by the Haitian people. The people in this small village see many short-term white missionary teams come through every summer. Overall, an improvement is made in the lives of some, because the children get to use the new school buildings and eat lunch until full while attending school. However, do any of the Haitians that I met still remember me? Did I make a major impact in any of their lives?

I think that long-term mission trips do more to impact the targeted people. When a missionary is at one location for a long time, he or she is able to develop relationships in which there is trust and influence. Through the way the missionary lives his/her life and acts within the friendship, the indigenous friend is able to see the heart of the missionary and how God can inspire one’s life. Impact can also come through the missionary’s profession. As a nurse, I could work in a clinic or a hospital and help improve health care in Africa. I could work as a nursing instructor training nationals to become nurses, thereby helping improve the lives of the nursing students and their future patients.

Short-term and long-term mission trips both help the indigenous, but long-term missionaries have the opportunity to make a greater impact on the indigenous with whom they interact because they have more time with the people. Without that short-term mission trip to Haiti, I never would have realized that God was calling me to be a missionary. However, now that I am called, I see that I can make a much bigger difference in the lives of people through my work as a long-term missionary.


Filed under Africa, God, Haiti, long-term, missionary, missions, short-term, Tywonn

2 responses to “Which is Better?

  1. Anonymous

    We are praying for you and God’s plan for your time in Africa. Thank you for the Kenyan Souvenirs! God Bless you as you serve His people on the other side of the Equator.

  2. Andrea

    Very well stated!

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