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Women’s Ministry and Short Term Missions: Reflection and Encouragement

By Addie Pfingsten, Missions Consultant at Thirst Missions

With my then recent Bachelor’s Degree in Education from East Texas Baptist University, I soon set off to Russia with an organization of Christian teachers from around the US.  Naïve? Maybe.  Well-prepared? Not really. Confident of why I was going? Definitely.

I was surrounded by teachers, primarily women, sent out to use their gifts of teaching and loving children to minister to the rich of the rich, to the nannies and bodyguards, to the people of Russia who didn’t necessarily need God to “physically” help them.  I spent my weekends working with a team from my church in Moscow, traveling to different orphanages and helping the orphans who were not adoptable; precious children with disabilities.

I knew I was ready to be “all in” and the next two years were the most challenging, yet most rewarding years of my life!  I was changed.  Living the life of a missionary, if even for a short while, was something I knew I could never let go of.

After my stint in Russia, I moved many times.  I felt that my role as a teacher and educator opened so many doors for me, a way to reach people who weren’t necessarily accustomed to all things “Christian.”  From Italy back to Texas, from Spain to Switzerland, my calling was to love people and share Christ and because of my teaching degree, I was able to enter into schools and form relationships with people I might not have ever encountered on my own.

Right after my time in Switzerland gaining a Masters Degree in International Education, at age 29, I met my husband Jason.  He was passionate about reaching people for Christ.   He had a love for missions that I yearned to be a part of.  Was it a dream?  Had I fallen in love with a man who also committed his life to fulfill the Great Commission?  Yes!  Jason had founded his own short term missions organization, Thirst Missions.  Although I knew nothing about the country of Belize, where all of his ministry was taking place at the time, I quickly became a part of his continued passion for the people there.

Through the years my role has changed from a teacher, to a stay at home mom, to a Missions Consultant helping each team prepare for their time in ministry, and now to a more active role in decision making because of the current health of my husband.  

Every day I talk with teams who have taken the step to minister alongside of us in one of our three locations: Alaska, Belize, and England.  Although each and every team, location and their ministries are different, there are a few challenges that each face.

Who will go?  

Although you have found the perfect way for your Women’s Ministry to serve together, that doesn’t always mean that everyone is fully committed to going with you.  Having as much information as possible about your short term mission trip is a must.  Make sure you have answers to all of your questions before you introduce the trip to others, so you can be confident in sharing.

When will you go?  

Your Women’s Ministry is probably full of women in various working fields; stay at home moms, teachers, business women and care givers.  Some have children at home, others may not.  When looking at the best time to serve, everyone will pull out their calendars and give different dates of availability.  Something to remember is that due to the dates of serving, not everyone will be able to go.  It would be wise to make the decision on dates before promoting the trip.  Sometimes it’s a standard week you pick from (like Alaska and England for Thirst)  or you can choose your dates (Belize).  When deciding the time of year, always keep in mind holidays or seasons.  If the age bracket you are working with might find it difficult in warmer weather, look towards serving in cooler months. Weather can definitely be key in having a successful ministry trip.

How do you promote the trip?  

Brochures, explanations of “why” you will be going, and “what” you will be doing are essential.  Casting a vision for your team and who you are ministering to is a big part of the importance of serving together, and getting others enthusiastic about the trip.  In Alaska this summer, for example, we have a group that will be putting on a women’s conference as their primary ministry focus.  Knowing even a general idea of what you’d like to do will help other women understand the vision and see the role they can play with the unique gifts God has given them.  

What ministries do we need to prepare for?  

Once you have been able to gather a team of women to serve, take a look at the gifts and talents of the ladies serving alongside you.  Are some gifted in music, or in teaching?  Are others wanting to visit a children’s home or focus on painting?  Are some team members wanting to focus on relational ministry or home ministry?    In order to be the most productive while you are on your short term missions trip, preparation is key.  Delegating out proposed ministries can enable your team to be well organized and prepared.  

All of the ministries available to you are going to bring your team closer together, forming a deep bond.  Whether you are in a developing country passing out food baskets to families who have none, ministering to the homeless and addicted, or traveling through a large city sharing God with those who don’t realize what they’re missing, it needs to be covered in prayer.  

What you have embarked on is something great!  Although the planning and organization can be trying, being obedient to God and fulfilling the Great Commission is key.  

Being in a women’s group at your local church has brought you together, but now is the time to have your relationships grow deeper through action.   

Addie Pfingsten is a Missions Consultant at Thirst Missions.  

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