Short-Term Teams – You better shop around

Part 2 – Participant Responsibility and Preparation

If you are considering participating in a short-term trip, you have some responsibilities before you choose where you are going and who you are going with to serve.  You should examine your intentions as you begin thinking about your purpose in going.  You should check into the organization you plan to go with before signing up.

When considering participating in a mission trip the first thing each individual should ask is, “Is God calling me to go and serve?”  Yeah, I know it would be nice if God always spoke to us verbally and we could physically hear Him say, “John go serve two week in Kenya!”  This is a whole topic in itself.  What you need to do before going on a short-term mission trip is take some time to pray, asking God to give you direction in where He wants you to serve and to help you have wisdom in choosing an organization to serve with as you go.  If you do not feel God calling you to go, then do not go.

The CWO application has a couple questions to help potential team members think about the desire to go on a short-term trip.  “Why do you wish to go on this mission opportunity?” is the first question that addresses this.  Asking yourself why you want to go can help you determine if God wants you to go.  If you are going just to check it off your bucket list of things to do or places to go, then do not go.  I have had team members go for this reason and it is quickly evident they are not interested in going to serve but ready to go on their next “adventure.”  Their interest is seeing the world and not serving with those in the country they are visiting.

I do need to add that if you are going just so you can get to the country where a child you sponsor lives, do not go.  I know the desire to see that child you have sponsored for many years is strong but if this is why you are going your motive is selfish.  I have seen team members sit around and not participate in the activities of the team just waiting to visit their sponsored child.  The saddest part is knowing that this selfish act has caused a hardship on the child’s family because they need to miss work and sometimes travel for a whole day just to bring the child to visit.

Another question we ask on the application is, “How do you plan to use this experience when you return home?”  This may seem like an odd question before you leave but again it may help you know what your motive is for going on this trip.  A short-term trip is a good way to test your ability to function cross-culturally, especially if you are thinking about serving long-term.

This is a great way to get a glimpse of what long-term missionaries deal with on a day to day basis, helping you know how to pray for them.  It can also help you know the real needs so that you understand what financial support is helpful.  I have seen people go on a different short-term trip every year each time with a different organization and to a different country.  They do not have a desire to understand and learn but, again, are checking it off their list.

It is your responsibility to set your expectations before going.  The beginning of setting your expectations is to investigate any organization you might go to serve with on a trip.  Ask lots of questions before applying for a trip.  If you do not get any clear answers you may want to look somewhere else for a place to serve.  I would ask for a reference of someone who has already gone with the organization.  They will be able to help you know what to expect when going to serve.

A short-term trip should be viewed as a learning experience.  Be ready to go observe and ask questions (when appropriate).  This is not a time to sit back and relax but a time to study the culture around you, investing time with those you are working with and serving alongside them.  Begin building relationships that can last and grow as you serve.  This can seem like a lot of hard work but it will be well worth it as you return home and reflect on what God has taught you through your short-term trip.

What’s next?  In part three about short-term trips we will look at what happens when you get home.

Short Term Teams – the Good & the Bad

Part 1 (the sending organizations responsibility)

Greg Yoder participated in the first Christian World Outreach (CWO) work team that served in Johnstown, Pennsylvania after the flood of 1977.  He then served on the first team to Haiti in 1978 that held a youth camp.  After graduating from college he served in Haiti from 1980 to 1988. He taught at Quisqueya Christian School and prepared for short-term teams to come to Haiti in the summers for 3 ½ years and then worked full time as the CWO administrator.  After moving back to the States he connected with CWO by serving on the board and leading teams. In 2003 he began working part-time leading CWO teams and then began working in the US headquarters in 2005 where he now serves as CWO’s president.

There continues to be a debate about whether short-term mission trips do much good.  You have probably seen posts on Facebook or received an email with a website link about all the negative things associated with short-term mission trips. You have also probably read stories or talked to a friend about how a short-term team has had a positive effect.  I must admit I have been a part of teams that fall under both extremes and hopefully have learned something from those experiences.

It is healthy for every organization that participates in sending short-term missions to struggle with this question for each team that goes out to serve.  After all, the buck stops with the organization that offers short-term trips because they are the link between those receiving a team and those going.  It is their responsibility to make sure they are making a trip meaningful and useful to those receiving a team.  It is also their responsibility to make it a positive learning and growing experience for the team members going to serve.

The sending organization should first know those who are receiving a team.  They should have a good enough working relationship so that they get an honest answer to the usefulness of teams.  They should know the culture well enough to know if they are being told “yes bring teams” just because those asked are being polite or if they really want / need a team to come.  The sending organization should also make sure that they include those receiving a team in the planning, the fundraising, and that they participate in the project.

I have asked our in-country staff if it is beneficial to have teams come and the response has always been yes.  They have said that it is an “encouragement” to have teams take time to come and serve alongside them, and they know that it helps those who support the ministry in prayer and financially to see firsthand what they support.

Usually any negative reaction to short-term missions is partly because the American comes in as the “expert” in everything, works alone on the project and believes they are the only ones who can get the project done.  Because of this we can create a group of people who sit back and watch the Americans work without saying a word.  They will not tell the “guest” that the project is not something wanted or needed and so the time and money spent on this trip is wasted.

I have seen some unused playgrounds that teams have felt were needed when the real need was for desks and other classroom needs.  I have seen a room full of discarded toys left over after picking out the useful donated items like pencils, pens, rulers, notebooks, etc.  I know of a building built that goes unused because it was built American style.  I know of equipment that has been installed but never used because those receiving it do not know how to use it or the replacement parts are not available locally.  I have also seen teams viewed as just a way to receive the funds to complete a project.

The solution is to start with the sending organization building a long-term relationship with those they serve and then for them to understand the real need of those receiving a team.  This relationship would be one built on trust and promote open and honest discussions about teams.  It is best that those receiving a team are part of the planning so they have ownership and the project is accepted as theirs.  One other way to help them take ownership is to have those receiving a team invest something in the project by raising funds or bringing supplies.  Because this is not typically asked of those receiving a team it may seem odd but it is acceptable.

It goes without saying, or maybe not, that the receivers and the team members work side-by-side on the project.  This brings both sides together and helps build relationships that can last longer than any building or other project that a short-term mission team could participate in.

CWO has been a part of short-term mission trips for almost 40 years.  We have made mistakes along the way and have learned from those mistakes.  Our goal is to make short-term mission trips a part of the ministry to encourage both those receiving a team and those going and to be a part of the existing ministries.

More about short-term mission teams and the team member’s responsibilities and preparation on the next blog post.

Reaching out in rural Haiti – Part 3

It is November 1979. Living in a foreign country can be lonely, especially when special holidays are approaching. It is so encouraging when I have visitors.  My sister, Sharon and two friends, Melaina and Laura came to visit.  It was so fun to show them this country and her beautiful people.

Learning a different language is not easy. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever learn it.  I spend countless hours studying, memorizing and practicing. I wasn’t expecting this learning process to be so frustrating.

An unexpected ministry opened up, teaching phys ed to the female students at Quisqueya Christian School. Some of the students are missionary kids, some are children of the elite class.  CWO realizes the need to minister to all classes, the poor and the wealthy.  I am excited to develop a relationship with these young women.

I continue visiting the youth from our camps, traveling through cities to the winding roads up the mountains. It is humbling to visit our youth in their homes, huts with thatched roofs and shacks with tin roofs. They are excited that I would spend time with them. It is always a blessed experience for me.  I long to learn their language, Creole, so I can really communicate.

nov-1979-photo-2    nov-1979-photo-1

“In as much as you have done unto the least of these …” – Part 2

This blog post is the second in a series of reflections from Karen Pasquariello, CWO’s first missionary in Haiti.

It is Sept 1979. At times I am overwhelmed by the endless needs of those around me.  Living in the poorest county in the Western Hemisphere, is not easy. The needs and the heat beat the strength out of me. Today an elderly Haitian woman walked up to me. She had tears streaming down her face and was obviously in pain. She lifted her shirt and showed me her open wound. Her insides were pushing out through the opening. I drove her to the hospital and provided the money for her to see the doctor and for treatment.

Now it is 2016, 37 years later. As I reflect on that experience, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to serve as a missionary with CWO and for God’s word, “in as much as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me”

 

Team CWO Scored Big at this Year’s Banquet!

This year’s banquet was filled with team spirit and excitement around ministry!  Guests enjoyed popcorn, lemonade and a fun game informing them about the four countries where CWO works. As has become our tradition, Haitian vanilla was available for purchase. Brand new CWO shirts were available for sale, all featuring the new CWO logo. (Go to our Current Campaigns page to shop for your CWO team shirt!)  A tasty tailgate-like buffet meal gave guests an opportunity to visit over dinner. Donated sports items, like a Broncos jacket and Rockies tickets, were given out during a drawing from guests who participated in the CWO game during the social hour. Following an invocation by Torrey House from Creekside Church, an introduction to the ministry in Burkina Faso kicked off the program. Alassane and Dina Compaore spoke about how both the Village of Opportunity and Mobile Clinic are growing and how grateful they are for Team CWO. Greg Yoder, CWO President, gave an update on ministries in Haiti, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The highlight of the evening was when Jerry Schemmel gave a powerful, mission-focused testimonial to end the evening. CWO is grateful for the approximate $60,000 in donations and pledges we received at the banquet.

Whether all-stars or game-changing rookies, everyone is a member of God’s team and a vital part of Team CWO!

As we enter into 2017 we look forward to more opportunities to win over others for God’s team and working together in ministry. Thank you for supporting CWO through prayer, volunteering, advocating and financially supporting our work. We look forward to making 2017 a championship year!

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After Hurricane Matthew … What Now for CWO?

Hurricane Matthew was a slow-moving, powerful storm that hit Haiti hard this past week. As has been the case so many times before in Haiti, there is no shortage of need. From medical attention, clean water and food to clearing roads and re-building, recovery will likely be long and complicated. We grieve with those affected by the storm and pray that God will show Himself to those in need.

CWO has ministered in Haiti for more than 35 years. It’s important to note that we are not solely a relief organization. God has given us opportunities to work alongside our Haitian friends and bring Christ to many. Sometimes that takes the form of providing medical attention or rebuilding following disasters. And sometimes it is by providing education or a hot meal for a child. Whatever form it takes, we’re grateful for God’s provision, the relationships we’ve developed and the partnerships that have come from our time working in Haiti.

CWO specializes in making a difference in the lives we touch and in making a difference for eternity. If that means helping a partner organization with immediate needs after the hurricane, we will be there. Our vision is to be in Haiti for the long haul, through recovery, as people need to hear the Good News and if Haiti faces yet another disaster. We are committed to serving in Haiti and recognizing the tremendous potential of this place and its people. If you want to help support recovery efforts, you can give to CWO by clicking the DONATE button above and selecting Disaster Relief under the Haiti menu option.

Thank you for recognizing and supporting CWO’s unique and necessary role in not only helping with the recovery effort but in building a future for Haiti for now and eternity!

“I am grateful for what CWO has done for me…”

The CWO Children’s Feeding Program is helping to raise healthy children into healthy adults! Located at Delmas 31, the program is in a suburb area of Port-au-Prince. Children receive a hot meal three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Most children come from the Delmas 31 neighborhood but others will walk 2-3 kilometers. In addition to the hot meal, children learn to pray, and sing songs and are taught a life skill.

The following young people, who were part of the program when they were younger, have shared how the program helped them during their childhood:

StanleyStanley Ria shared, “I used to go to school on an empty stomach but I was waiting for the school day to end so that I could go and eat on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the CWO Feeding Program. Those days were different since I could find a decent and sustaining meal three days per week. I have completed my high school and I am grateful for what CWO had done for me through the Feeding Program.”

JuniorJunior Paul told us, “The food that CWO used to provide for me as a child was very useful. I could not wait to the end of the school day so that I could go and eat at the Feeding Program on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I am now thanking the supporters of the program. The food was good for me so much so that I now complete my high school. I want other children to benefit from the program as well.”

TorbeckTorbeck Widlèmson said, “The Feeding Program is doing a lot of good for the children in the community. Thank you for the food you provided for me when I was a child. The meals gave a great start. I just completed my high school. Such fulfillment would not be possible without the meals I received at the CWO Feeding Program during my childhood.”

PetersonPeterson Aristil told us, “My brother and I are twins. We quit school at the 7th grade because our mother did not have the means to keep us in school. We were fed three times a week at the CWO Feeding Program. Now we are young men and we are fending for ourselves. I am doing taxi moto, transporting people on a motorcycle for pay. The same way the Feeding Program was good to me, it is also good to others like me.”

Thank you for helping CWO make a difference in the lives of so many!

 

Getting Ready for a Short-Term Mission Trip

Getting ready for a short-term mission trip can be so exciting. There are so many things to get ready for. You need to get your support letters written and mailed. You have to get your supplies for the trip no matter what venture it is. You have to pack your bags. You have to prepare for your trip whether it be a Vacation Bible School, construction, medical or any other type of trip. At least these are the things that I do before a trip.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to go on so many trips and each time I get so excited for this process. One thing I can easily overlook and that is arguably the most important part is preparing my heart. I can often get so excited about the less important things I forget to pray over my trip. I forget to ask God to give me the right mindset and heart for all I am about to face. I forget to pray for each life that we will come in contact with. I forget to pray that God will bond the team so we can bring all the glory to Him.

I think getting the right support financially, getting your bags packs and finishing up your VBS lessons and other plans and preparations are all good things. These are all things that God wants us to prepare, but I think there is more God wants from us. As we prepare for each mission trip we should be fully seeking God’s guidance and wisdom. In fact this should be how we live our lives day to day, seeking God first and allowing him to guide the steps as you go on your way.

Sarah Yoder – CWO Trip Participant

Haiti Pastors Reflect on Their Ministry

At the 2016 Leadership Development training in Haiti more than 140 pastors and leaders participated in Bible study and learned new ways to grow their ministries. They welcome the opportunity to share and encourage one another. Get to know two of the pastors that oversee the eight CWO churches in Haiti: Pastor Icher from the church in Ouanaminthe and Pastor Elino leads the church in La Victoire.

From Pastor Icher:

Why did you decide to become a pastor?

I decided to go to seminary because I felt God’s call upon my life. I also wanted to know more about God’s Word so that I might teach those who do not yet know God and lead them to Christ.

How long have you been a pastor at your church?

I have been in the pastorate in the church at least for the past 13 years.

How do you and your church reach out into the community to tell others about Jesus?

The church and I do several activities to lead others in the community to Christ:

  • We visit the people in the community.
  • We do door to door evangelism.
  • We plan conferences for the Christian and the non-Christian youth.
  • We encourage people to attend church services when we meet for Bible study, prayer meetings and worship services.

What is the biggest joy and the biggest challenge in being a pastor in Haiti?

Our greatest joy is the fact that the church is growing both spiritually and in number every day in spite of the problems we face in the ministry.

The greatest problem a pastor in Haiti is facing is an economic issue because the churches do not have the capacity to support their pastors and their families. Because of that, the ministry becomes even more difficult when they want to reach a goal for the church.

What would you like others to know about your church and the people who attend and serve at your church?

Here is what I want others to know about the church, about those who attend and are serving in it:

  • The church needs a lot of prayers.
  • The church needs more spiritual and material blessings.
  • The church needs more love for one another.
  • The church needs to establish more relationships with other brothers and sisters around the world so that we can pray one for another.

From Pastor Elino:

Why did you decide to become a pastor?

I decided to become a pastor because I felt the call of the Lord upon my life. I always had the desire to study God’s word so that I could become a trained pastor. In my area there is a great lack of trained pastors. I also wanted to be well equipped to evangelize those who do not know Christ.

How long have you been a pastor at your church?

I have been in the pastorate for the last 9 years.

How do you and your church reach out into the community to tell others about Jesus?

We hold evangelistic activities in the area every semester.

What is the biggest joy and the biggest challenge in being a pastor in Haiti?

My biggest joy is to see that the church is growing in number and in their walk with the Lord.

The biggest challenge in being a pastor in Haiti is the great challenge of meeting the needs of my family without neglecting the ministry.

What would you like others to know about your church and the people who attend and serve at your church?

I want everyone to know how the Lord has blessed the church over the past 9 years. More than over 50 new members have been added to the church over the past 9 years. Some families are divided; many souls have come to Christ. In Haiti, particularly in the rural areas, the churches can in no way provide for the needs of their pastors.