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Missions 101

By January 29, 2016Blog, Newsletter

Missions 101: It’s all about the Long-Term Relationships

Long Term RelationshipsBy Adam Swenson

Churches in the US are blessed with many resources compared to churches in the developing world. In Zechariah 8 God says, “I will save you so that you may become a blessing.” Likewise it is appropriate for first-world churches to seek to bless churches in the developing world. Doing so can be a stretch and a sacrifice for our teams, but we find they are richly rewarded with a greater vision of God’s kingdom when they choose to go and serve abroad.

Each Trip Is Unique

Every team serving with Thirst Missions has different demographics, people, and abilities, and each Belizean partner church has different challenges—that’s why we don’t do “one size fits all” missions trips.

When a team registers to serve in Belize, we have them choose 4 – 8 ministries from our 14 ministry options: things like home visits, service projects, VBS, or evangelism.

Each of our partner churches also tell us every year what they need help with. We take a good long look at this when choosing what church we will partner each team with. We carefully match each team’s areas of strength with the church’s areas of need. We want our teams to be able to do real, helpful ministry from day one!

Belizean Church Needs

The vast majority of pastors at our partner churches are bivocational with “day jobs” like truck driving, or sugarcane farming. With 40 hours a week devoted to feeding the family (and more time on top of that needed for family responsibilities), their time for ministry is not as much as they would like. They all want to see their churches grow (and see the church building improved) and that can be difficult to achieve.

A missions team can be a tremendous encouragement to pastors who often feel they are going it alone. Knowing a team is coming, even six months away, can be enough to keep them encouraged and refreshed. There’s an excitement in the church as they pray for the team and prepare to go out into their community together. Our Belizean trip leaders run all the logistics for the trips, so there’s no burden placed on the Belizean pastor and church.

Succeeding in Ministry

It’s critically important to us that each person who comes to Belize with Thirst Missions is able to contribute while on the trip. We want each person to learn that God values availability over ability and that, no matter what their skills are, God can use them. We build in times of reflection so this lesson will really sink in and will be something they will carry with them forever.

We find that this sense of confidence only builds when people come in subsequent years.

Long-Term Partnerships

There’s a real beauty in seeing God’s provision over a period of years with a Belizean church. Teams that go back multiple years typically see the church grow and the church building improve with each trip. But more importantly, deep cross-cultural relationships are made. We strongly encourage people to be in contact with their Belizean friends throughout the year – Facebook is a great way to do that, as is Skype.

Work Hard, Play Hard

We embrace a work hard/play hard philosophy, so when teams do get a break from full days of ministry, we send them off to see the Mayan ruins, go cave tubing, or zip line through the rainforest canopy. Most of our teams end with a day on the tropical island of Caye Caulker, where they will snorkel, swim, or just relax in a hammock with a good book.

Our hope is that the experience is beneficial for all, ultimately resulting in Belizeans coming to salvation and entering the fellowship of the local church, while also powerfully encouraging the local church, the pastor, and each member of the team!

If you’d like more information on bringing a team from your church to serve in Belize, email us here. 

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