Short Term Missions

Are our short-term “missions” trips really helping the cause of missions?

By “missions,” I mean the process of Christians from reached people groups sharing the gospel with unreached people groups (UPG), implying that languages must be learned and cultures must be understood. Language acquisition and cultural understanding take years, perhaps even decades — not days.

This definition implies at the outset that missions is most effectively carried out by long-term missionaries.

By “short-term missions (STM) trip,” I mean a visit to a foreign country for the sake of missions, typically lasting no more than two or three weeks. I use that definition not because it’s sensible but because it’s been the description shared most widely in the church since the late 20th century. By the definition of missions above, though, “short-term” missions doesn’t actually exist — languages cannot be learned and cultures cannot be understood in a three-week visit. This does not necessarily mean that such short-term trips can’t support the cause of missions. The question is what role short-term trips can play in the church’s long-term goals among the nations?

Scripture is the first place we should look for insight on how to think about ministry models, especially when the stakes are as high as they are. We’re talking about thousands of trips, billions of dollars, and untold number of unreached souls.

The Long-Term Ministry of Encouragement

Philippians 2:25, 29–30:

I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need … So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men, for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.

The epistle to the Philippians includes a message of gratitude from a missionary (Paul) to one of his supporting churches for the supplies they sent via Epaphroditus, who is a great model for short-term work. Epaphroditus served the church and the cause of missions by being a messenger of the church’s love for Paul, and by being a minister to his emotional and physical needs (Philippians 2:25). His “short-term” efforts advanced the cause of missions by supporting the most effective means of missions — long-term missionaries.

There are several things we can learn by looking to Epaphroditus.

  • His team was really small. We probably shouldn’t travel alone, but does a team of ten or twenty or more make sense? Let’s think inside the box: would you find it refreshing to host ten or twenty people in your home for a week or so? How, then, might it be for a missionary far away from their homeland with far fewer resources?
  • Epaphroditus didn’t go to use his trade or to do work outside his field (for instance, putting a roof on an orphanage, whether or not he had expertise in roofing).
  • He didn’t bring along his school-age children so that they could have a great experience. A child that’s too young can only exhaust more resources than they can contribute to the work.
  • He brought the “church” to Paul. Christians back home have access to fellowship all the time. They get recharged at weekly worship services and small group gatherings. Missionaries, by definition, do not have the same kind of access to other believers.

Testimonies of missionaries declare and personal experience confirms that Epaphroditus-type visitors can refresh and encourage discouraged long-termers who were almost ready to pack it up.

The Long-Term Ministry of Education

Though the goal of missions has not changed since the first century, the strategies have. Vocations, industries, and services have progressed and developed over the years.

Consider your own vocation or business. Have you ever had a team of 10–20 people come to your work place to help you do your job for a week? Perhaps some of you can think of a rare exception. But suppose that the team doesn’t speak the language of your colleagues or customers. Suppose they’re not from North America and know nothing of the culture. How helpful would that team be to you?

If such a visiting team of workers is not typical in vocations or industries in the United States, should we assume it would be helpful for missionaries?

More effective than doing the work for a couple weeks, short-term teams can minister by providing continuing vocational education (CVE). Many professions have seminars, conferences, or meetings where those in the particular field can learn from others in the same field. Most missionaries do not have geographic or financial access to this kind of targeted teaching. Because of the lack of expertise and resources in many missions settings, CVE trips can be beneficial even if the instructors are not industry experts — they simply have to be trained enough themselves to train others.

And this kind of vocational training is not necessarily limited to paid employment. For instance, there are conferences in the US to support parents who home-school their children. How encouraging do you suppose a visit by two Epaphroditus-type volunteers with expertise in education or academic assessment would be to a mom who home-schools her children out in the middle of the Sahara desert? If that focused, thoughtful visit leads to just one more year on the field, it could be worth far more than 52 one-week STMs for the cause of missions (and, by the way, a far more effective and efficient use of resources).


Missions is the process of reaching unreached peoples with the Gospel, which requires intense language-learning, cultural study, and relationship-building. Short-term missions, therefore, does not exist. All of our missions — however long we’re physically in the country — is long-term missions. Church resources should be invested in short-term trips as a way of supporting missionaries, not as a separate missions strategy.

One way to support missionaries is to send Epaphroditus-type ministers (EPM) to love and encourage them. Another is to supply specific ongoing vocational education for their areas of ministry at home and in the community (CVE).

Certainly, there are other ways to support missionaries with visitors, but instead of trying to develop some novel plan, let’s think “inside the box” and consider what works well in our own home, neighborhood, and workplace. Perhaps what’s most important to remember is that unlike vacations, which are planned for the sake of the travelers, these visits ought to be made not for the sake of the visitors, but for the sake of our precious missionaries.

Let’s work together to take the “short” out of short-term missions

Manna Fest

Pam and I had lunch at Sal’s Italian Resturant Bonsack today and they are super excited to host the Because We Care fund raiser tomorrow beginning at 4pm. Please come out and join us to help feed families in Nicaragua. 4PM – 9PM

Manna Fest

Blessing from Casa De Gillette…….Blessed and giving thanks….Please save the date (Dec 11) because Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Bonsack is holding a fund raiser to help Because We Care with our "Manna Fest" program. Beginning at 4pm and running through 9pm we will receive a % of everything sold. Bring the family out to enjoy a fabulous Italian dinner and help feed the children of Nicaragua. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS AND SUPPORT….IHS, Donald and Pamela

Holy Land 2020

Dear Friends,

I invite you to join us for a “Once in a Lifetime Experience” to see the very places where Jesus walked, taught and lived His earthly life. Come with us on a tour of the Bible Lands. The Bible will come alive for you. I would like to share this experience with you and encourage you to join me.

I am certain you will return filled with enthusiasm, gratitude and a renewed faith. “To walk in the footsteps of Jesus cannot be described. It can only be experienced.”

Complete the enrollment form and mail it to me today. I look forward to your companionship.


Dr. & Mrs. Donald M. Gillette

10D HL .pdf
Reg Form.pdf

Manna Fest

"Hunger! There are not a lot of us that will be worried about being hungry in the next several weeks. In Somotillo, Nicaragua and the surrounding areas, hunger is on the minds of many moms and dads when they have no food for their family. I’ve never seen or experienced this kind of poverty before I went to Nicaragua. Because We Care Ministries deals with this kind of desperation 24/7. Feeding bodies but filling souls with Jesus. BWCM sponsors Manifest this time of year to help feed families both. By donating $10.00, you will help put a bag of food and supplies to feed a family of six for a week. Think of sending money from your blessed family to bless another. Every year Sterling and I commit sending a bag of food from each member of our family for Christmas. Pray about what you will do. May God bless you all….Debbie Broyles

Please pray how you can help…..You can donate through our web site, ( or mail to BWCM, PO Box 14132 Roanoke, VA. 24038

Thank you for your prayers and support…..

Nica News

June 2018 Nicaragua Mission Trip Experience

I am excited to share from my experience this summer in Nicaragua with Because We Care Ministries. I have served with BWCM in previous years and each year, God reveals His faithfulness in fulfilling His purposes for the team who serve together in this poor country.

Many of you know that Nicaragua experienced a time of heightened social unrest earlier this year. I had been aware of political unrest before, but this was the first time I had seen roadblocks set up to deter the transportation of goods throughout the country. I was never afraid or reluctant to travel to Nicaragua and I am very glad to have followed through with plans to lead our team on this mission trip.

There was something different about this trip, compared to previous years. We were greeted with hungry, desperate faces in every village and I can’t recall how many times I heard, “Please pray for our country” and “Thank you for coming to help our country”. An experience that has stood out in my mind was our visit to the village of Torres.

It was a long, rough ride and the trucks had to stop and put rocks in a washed-out part of the road to get across. Back in 2004, my husband had helped build the church building, where we ministered that day. Upon arriving and unloading the truck, an elderly lady stood at the gate of the fenced-in area around the church in Torres and started talking to me in Spanish, motioning for me to come over to where she was standing. I hugged her and asked a translator to assist. The lady was thanking me for coming to her village, where they were very hungry. She said they hadn’t seen very many missionaries for a while and thanked me over and over. She said they were thankful to God for something to eat, other than the little bit they had in the village. She was praising God for sending us that day. Team members interacted with the villagers as mothers and young children lined up to see the doctor. The team portrayed God’s protection with a David & Goliath skit, shared the gospel message of Jesus Christ and little voices prayed the “sinner’s prayer”. As the storm clouds rumbled close by, we hurriedly distributed what we had in the back of the truck and headed down the road, rain drops pounding the tarp covering the bed of the truck.My mind kept replaying the conversation with the lady in that village and I was reminded of the impact of simple acts of obedience in Jesus’ name.

We often contemplate the question, “What if the missionaries hadn’t come that day?” I believe the village of Torres would have gone to sleep hungry that night. This is just one of the many villages that are served by Because We Care Ministries’ feeding program. We get a small glimpse of the need for food in this country during our week-long mission trip. I am supporting Manna Fest this year, knowing that a simple act of obedience in Jesus’ name will go a long way in meeting the needs of people in a country that has suffered from this period of social unrest.


Manna Fest

1 John 3:17-18 ESV

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Manna Fest

Matthew 10:42 I tell all of you with certainty, whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple will never lose his reward.

Good morning and blessings……The political climate in Nicaragua continues to change but praise GOD most of the violence has stopped. With that being said one thing that has not changed is the needs of the people in the villages being served by BWCM. Please pray about helping us through Manna Fest a program that for a donation of $10 we can feed a family of 6 for a week. You can give through our web site ( or PO Box 14132, Roanoke VA.


Kroger Plus Cards

Blessings from Somotillo Nicaragua……I just got the monthly report from Kroger and they stated that not one family that was supportin BWCM purchased anything from them through the last quarter. Also, they informed me that they are making some changes to their system and we now have a new number, which is IP978. Please go to Kroger community rewards and register your Kroger plus card and help support BWCM. We truly need your support now more than ever. Please pass this on to your family and friends. May God richly bless you and yours.

By HIS Grace, Donald and Pamela Gillette