[infobox bgcolor=”{{bgcolor}}” textcolor=”{{textcolor}} style=”alert-success”] Brenda Phinney’s fourth short term mission trip took her to Rwanda in fall 2014. In this blog post she shares just a few of the ways God has used her STM experiences in her life. This is an edited version of an article that appeared in the February 2015 issue of Tidings magazine. [/infobox]

The Benefits of Short-Term Missions

By Brenda Phinney

Your faith increases
Being part of a STM increases your faith and allows you to grow in your walk with God. While the cost of going seems daunting at the time, it never ceases to amaze me how God provides the necessary monies. For this trip to Rwanda I had some money dog-eared for a mission trip. A busy work schedule limited the time I had for fund raising; however, people responded well to the one fund raising project I took on. And God continues to direct individuals to give so that others can go. Sometimes I am surprised who God uses to help me along the way.
You share your faith
Being part of a STM gives you opportunities to share your faith. About five years ago God planted the desire to go to Africa in my heart. After five years of praying, I was excited to finally be going; I told everyone I met about my upcoming trip. Co-workers expressed an interest in my plans and I was able to explain why I would want to do something like this and the value of mission trips. In light of the medical crisis in Western Africa, conversations turned to faith, trust, responsibilities and obedience. These conversations may not have occurred otherwise.

You get up close and personal with women from another culture
Merely sending a cheque to the mission board does not allow me to experience first-hand the culture of the host country. Being there, interacting with missionaries and their co-workers, and meeting the folks whose lives have been changed as a result of ongoing ministries, results in a change in me. I have become better aware of the needs of the global church while in the context of their culture. It is invigorating to experience new foods – passion fruit, boiled bananas, ugali (made with maize flour), cassava bread and isambaza (fish cooked with the heads intact) were all new to me on this trip. Worshiping in a culture different from my own allows me to unite my heart with my brothers and sisters in Christ. There appear to be no language barriers when praising our Heavenly Father together.

Your network expands
Since our team of eleven has returned to Canada, we have been given many opportunities to share about the work of CBM in Rwanda. It has become our mandate to inform Canadian churches that their investment in literacy, skills-training, Guardians of Hope, and vulnerable children and orphans is making a difference. We are excited to talk about the ongoing needs of the women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a manner of speaking, we have become a voice for the voiceless.

Had I not gone to Rwanda in 2014, I would not have met ten Canadian women who are now very dear to me. Nor would I have met CBM field staff, the Bustins and the Mills. They graciously shared their lives with us for two weeks and allowed us to gain a better understanding of how to pray for them and the ministry to which they have been called.

Had I not gone to Rwanda in 2014, the names Andre Sibomana, Ernestine Kamarora and Esperance Niyigena would simply have been names on a prayer card of someone who works in Rwanda as part of the CBM/AEBR team. Because I went to Rwanda, their names are now written on my heart.

Why not just send a cheque?
I give financially so that ministries both home and abroad can continue. But the giving of my resources alone does not develop relationships. When Andre Sibomana addressed our group early in our visit to Rwanda, one of the first things he said to us is that Rwandans don’t want just our money. Their desire is for relationships with the Canadian churches. From his perspective if only money is given, it is “consumed and that is the end of the story.” Andre reminded us that money cannot touch, cannot show emotion, and does not have a presence. And that is why I don’t just send a cheque.

This article first appeared in the February 2015 issue of Tidings magazine under the title The Benefits of Short-Term Missions.