The First Step to Long-Term Ministry

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This afternoon with my parents help I packed two large barrels full of items for my home in St. Vincent. Lord willing they will be delivered to a company next Monday or Tuesday, then arrive in SVG around two months later.

Packing those barrels brought a strange mixture of emotions since its at the same time an incredibly exciting, and absolutely terrifying experience.

Exciting because I’m already envisioning how the Lord will use my home for discipleship or youth meetings

And terrifying because I know this time it won’t just be for six-months

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While all missionaries experience a certain amount of risk and sacrifice, short-term missions [1] with its clear ending point makes things a little bit easier. When challenges come (they always do) you can say to yourself “well just two more months and I’ll be going back.” Even if this isn’t expressed verbally in times of testing our subconscious mind will tell us “just hang on for ___________ weeks then you’ll be home.” This comes from the understanding few problems on the mission field can be fixed in six months.

Permanent ministry on the other hand lasts years instead of months which means you no longer have any excuses 🙂

One of my biggest challenges in Barrouallie is getting the children who come by my house or visit bible club to attend church services. Since this is a long-term problem [2] it takes a long-term solution of entering into a mentoring relationship with them. Of course these kinds of relationships are very slowly developed [3] and solidified over not months but years.

This doesn’t mean I don’t try to deal with this challenge of course. But the excitement of short-term solutions like Mr. John’s juice or “tablet time” will eventually fade.

What missions needs is people who are committed to a long-term solution:

  1. People who will share God’s truth whether its appreciated or not
  2. Who will confront sin when everyone else accepts it
  3. Who gives of themselves sacrificially even if they don’t see results
  4. Who will be there for people as they weep, rejoice, or suffer together
  5. Who know what its like to experience rejection, and respond with forgiveness

The thing about long-term ministry is it isn’t fun or attract lots of attention like short-term missions work can. Its painful, frustrating, depressing, and not for the faint of heart [4]. Yet when you look at ministries that have truly impacted lives they almost always end up being ones that lasted for years.

As I send my barrels off to be shipped next week and take the first step towards long-term ministry in Barrouallie part of me will know theres no more excuses. But thats okay, because for change to truly take place, the challenges of missions must be faced head-on.

[1]: lasting one to six months

[2]: kids don’t just wake up one morning and decide to stop attending Church.

[3]: after six-months on the island I was getting to the place where I wanted to be relationally

[4]: there are good things of course, but long-term ministry does have a lot more challenges

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