I have a few things on my mind after an awesome week in Ethiopia, so I’d imagine they’ll seep out (college ministry-tinged, of course) on the blog this week. As the jet lag continues, here’s a thought for today.
I was reminded this week just how powerful and effective long-term partnerships of various kinds can be.
Case in point: Our church has been involved in regional church-building efforts in Ethiopia for several years now, taking a few trips each year (with the leadership of e3 Partners). So while it was my first time on one of these trips, we were clearly part of a growing history of involvement. In fact, my particular trip got to travel to a brand new area because of earlier teams’ success permeating our usual region! Because we have faithfully returned, the national disciplemakers, church leaders, and church members have received the impact of “development,” not simply guerrilla-style “help.”
Not only is partnership powerful for those “on the ground” in Ethiopia, it’s powerful for trip participants, too. Our church calls our short-term engagements “Discipleship Trips” for a reason, and this is one aspect of that: Our hearts are drawn to this nation and its people (including the nationals we work with year after year) because of perpetual partnership. Even though trips only happen each summer, members’ awareness is engaged all year. And there are many who return; over a third of our trip’s members had been before. For those people, Ethiopia is an ongoing (and growing) passion in some sense or another. And for us “newbies,” we were influenced to love this particular mission field all the more because some of our peers are so passionate – with the passion that multiple trips and long-term engagement build.
Perhaps it’s a little too “practical,” but long-term partnership affects recruitment, too. Whether I return in the future or not, I’m so glad that this wasn’t a one-off opportunity. As I share trip stories with my circles, their chance to participate in the future will always be in the back of my mind. I’m talking about something past (my trip), but I’m also talking about something future (our church’s trips down the road).
Of course, there are numerous other benefits practical and spiritual: planning trips, helping people consider longer-term missions callings, deepening fellowship with those in the field, and so on.
What long-term partnerships does your campus ministry have? Whether international, national, or local… whether for trips, for service projects, for fundraising, or for events… whether involving your entire ministry or small pockets… are you taking advantage of an amazing opportunity?