Should I Go on a Short-Term Mission Trip?
I went on my first short-term mission trip in 2001, about three years after retiring from the U.S. Navy. I had never considered becoming a missionary, either long or short-term, but when I read the announcement for volunteers to go to Russia I knew I had to go. For my entire life the Soviet Union, and then Russia, was the enemy. I studied their armed forces, orders of battle, language, culture, history and geography. If necessary, I was prepared to engage them in battle.
But now God was calling me to go to Russia to talk with them, not as the enemy, but as His children who needed to hear His word. As the Grateful Dead once sang, “What a long, strange journey it’s been.” And it’s not over yet.
What are short-term missions?
When thinking of missionaries, many people think only of Christians who have taken up residence in some foreign country where the inhabitants most likely are unfamiliar with the Christian faith. However, every year thousands of Christians travel all over the world for periods of one week to six months to share the good news of the Gospel. They may indeed travel to countries without a history of Christianity, but they may also go on missions to former Soviet Bloc nations or to western European countries that have become secularized.
They may even perform mission work right here in the United States. Think of it like this: Every military person on active duty is assigned to a permanent duty station. Occasionally, however, circumstances require a sailor or soldier to perform temporary duty (TDY) in support of another unit or operation. Consider a short-term mission as TDY in support of long term missionaries.
Why consider going on a short-term mission?
The answer to this question is found in Matthew 28: 18-20 (The Great Commission). Jesus tells His disciples to go out into the entire world to share the Gospel and make new disciples. As Christians, we are inheritors of this commission. In carrying out our obligation, we may travel near or far (or work right in our own communities), for long periods of time or short. Before considering any mission journey, pray for guidance and discernment.
If you’ve never been on a mission trip, consider a short-term mission as a starting point. Short-term missions will teach you about building relationships through service to others, education, medical service and even pop culture. You can change the world and the experience will definitely change you. Participants typically return from the field with a deepened Christian commitment.
FInd a short-term mission trip right for you by filling out a service profile with MissionNext!
Jan R. Dray LCDR, USN (retired)
A native of Portsmouth, Virginia, Jan Dray enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1968 and was trained as a Russian Voice Processing Specialist. Completing his enlistment in 1972, he earned a BA in Russian language from Old Dominion University. After working in the civilian sector, he attended Naval Officer Candidate School, was commissioned in 1982 and was subsequently designated as a Special Duty Officer—Cryptology. Upon retiring from the United States Navy in 1998, he re-committed his life to Christ. He has led short-term mission teams to the North Caucasus region of Russia and to Chile, taught American history and culture at Stavropol State Agrarian University in Russia. As well, he has served as vice-chairman of the Russia Initiative Committee of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC), UMC Staunton District missions coordinator, and is a certified lay speaker. His post-Navy employment positions include Director of Personnel and Testing for Highland County Public Schools and Executive Director of Industrial and Commercial Ministries.