USA (MNN) — The question is a common one for Christians: is there true value in serving on short-term mission trips? Brian Veen, Director of Missions Mobilization for Kids Alive International, believes the key is in partnering with a ministry that combines short-term service with long-term support.
“Service teams are an important part of our partnership program, allowing churches the opportunity to see first-hand what’s happening on the field, to allow their church or organization’s members to go and serve, and see how God’s already at work around the world and in the ministry of Kids Alive,” says Veen.
Each service team is customized, based on the skillsets of the groups organized by the participating church. Veen shares, “That can be youth groups, adult teams, a men’s or women’s group. They might be specialized trainers or teachers, medical or sports ministry. And there’s always construction and maintenance, and opportunity to interact with the kids through programs, crafts, songs – or just taking time to play at recess and gym class.”
“Service teams through Kids Alive is going to be a part of our bigger ministry,” shares Veen. “They’re going to join in what we’re already doing with our local staffs and partners, and they’re going to participate in the daily lives of children at school and in homes.”
Veen calls it a win-win-win — a benefit to the children, a benefit to the ministry programs, and a benefit to the church as they are able to see what it means to serve around the world. “That usually translates to serving more back at home too.”
Perhaps the greatest impact of all comes in the benefits to individual team members. Veen continues, “We’ve seen a lot of service team members lives change as they, for the first time ever, use their professional skills to impact kids’ lives. We’ve seen men pray for the first time in public, and make commitments to bringing their families back to church and to serving abroad and in their local community because of those experiences.”
Kids Alive believes in a “belong before belief” approach for mission teams, allowing churches to use the trips as outreach. “Going on a service team would be an opportunity for a church to bring someone who may not be a Christian and allow them to interact with other Christians and see the ministry that’s happening.”
Kids Alive currently sends service teams to seven different countries around the world: Lebanon, Zambia, Kenya, Dominican Republic, Peru, Haiti, and Guatemala.
“We’re always looking for more partners willing to go to Africa and the Middle East, just because we get fewer teams there and those staffs need encouragement, those children need more encouragement and we need more partners there to help our ministry be successful.”
To those who question the need to serve abroad, Veen has this to say: “We’re a community of believers and we’re all called to be different parts of the Body. Some of that is going abroad. It’s expanding your mind and your heart to what God’s doing around the world, and that can be used locally as well. We believe those who serve locally might be able to impact the world and go abroad as well. It’s all part of a bigger picture of where and how we serve.”