Near the conclusion of their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas retraced their early steps. That is, they went back to visit again with Christians they had taught the gospel. Instead of going home a different route, perhaps to other cities to share the gospel, they went back to cities already visited. Luke records the reason when he says they were, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God,’” (Acts 14:22). Luke further records that they appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting before leaving these baby Christians behind. Surely, we can see the wisdom in Paul and Barnabas returning to help and encourage these saints, can’t we? We can understand the church in its infant state, even with the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit in their day, would have appreciated the guidance these men provided.
Is there value in short-term mission trips today? My family was blessed, with the help of this congregation, to take a short trip recently. Some might ask what the value in such a trip might be. Let me offer two quick things for your consideration.
Short-term trips make long-term differences to the ones going.
As one who has taken several of these short trips, it cannot be overstated how much a trip to a different place can do to encourage the one who goes. In our little world, we can find ourselves discouraged from time to time and wonder if there really are souls still hungering for the gospel. Trips like these remind us there are such souls in our world and a better perspective is usually in mind as you return home. It also helps one to see the Lord’s church in a more universal sense. Whether the trip is taken out of the country or not, it is good to visit with brethren in new places and to be reminded that the precious gospel of our Lord is being obeyed and brethren in the Lord are found all over the world. Ask our boys if this trip has impacted their lives – our prayer is that it has in a big way forever!
Short-term trips make long-term differences to the ones receiving.
Paul and Barnabas knew the value of seeing their brethren and offering encouragement. Can you imagine a congregation where there are NO second-generation Christians?
That is to say, every one of them is the first Christian in their family. There were no parents to train them, they did not grow up worshipping as the New Testament directs, there were no years being taught from the Bible in Sunday school. What we might consider to be ‘fundamentals’ is often brand-new information to these young-in-the-faith Christians. We take many things for granted – gospel meetings are often going on, lectureships, seminars, Ladies’ Days – imagine having none of these things. Last week afforded ladies where we were visiting for the first time to have a Ladies Day. We then had a weekend Gospel Meeting and were able to visit and encourage our brothers and sisters to remain faithful to the Lord.
Some might be too quick to dismiss the value of a short-term trip to another place. The pattern found in the New Testament reminds us that God sees the value. How grateful we are to those who assisted in this most recent effort in doing the Lord’s work outside of this country!
– Adam Orr