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The Value of Short-Term Mission Teams

In ministry, there is a constant struggle between raising funds and using volunteers. Well-intentioned individuals fly down for a week to pour their heart into a ministry they barely kninternshipsow. Tens of thousands of dollars are spent on airfare, lodging, and local transportation. Many times, it is little more than poverty tourism. I’m regularly asked if it wouldn’t be more beneficial for people to just send the funds they would spend coming so I could hire local help. The simple answer is, “Yes,” but the reality is most people wouldn’t give the money, if we are honest. Short-term teams rush in and rush out of our lives as career missionaries, many times never looking back or never being truly impacted themselves. However, there are moments of tremendous blessing.

 

8949821269_2a807b0055_oThe best way to express what short-term teams do is by sharing a story. Engadi Ministries works in one of the most
dangerous slums in Guatemala. In 2006 we decided to build a soccer facility on a local sandlot. It wasn’t anything real fancy, just some stadium seating along a mud slope up one side of the field. A team from Anderson University was here laying concrete blocks and painting Bible verses on a wall at one end of field. A guy that had had a beer or twelve wandered up and started eyeing the young ladies as they painted the verses. I approached him and said, “Hi.” He replied, “Why?” It caught me off guard, because I wasn’t expecting that response. Again I said, “Hi”. He again said, “Why?”, but this time gestured toward the team working on the stadium. “Why are they here?” I briefly explained how they had raised their funds to come down paying for their airfare, lodging, meals, etc. all because of the Love Christ had placed in their heart for Guatemala. Jorge accepted the Lord that day and asked me to go pray for his house. He said, “The shadows don’t let me sleep.” I invited AU’s Director of Campus Ministry, Greg Allgood, to go help me cast out demons. Something neither of us had ever done. Two days later I was supervising the work and this guy walked up to me and sad, “Hi.” I greeted him politely and went on with what I as doing. He just stood there staring at me with a goofy grin on his face. I said, “Can I help you?” “It’s me,” he replied, “Jorge.” God had changed him to the point that, in two days, I couldn’t recognize him. Because a team came to Guatemala to build a soccer stadium one man’s life was touched by God. Jorge led his family to Christ. They brought 4 other families to Church and in the end an entire section of the neighborhood was impacted. The short-term team was oblivious to most of this.

 

The debate over going or just sending money will go on forever. There is a need for both. My good friend, Preston Hester, was a faithful supporter of all our work since 1999 until he went on to be with the Lord. He, however, never came to Guatemala to see what we were doing. I asked him to p9395770764_79733ec926_olease come to the dedication of the soccer stadium. Preston simply said, “I know you and trust you. I would rather give you what I would spend going than go.” In his case, he did. I also think about Dr Mike Gilbreath, a Veterinarian, that came on a short-term team. At the end of the week Mike said to me, “I’m not ever coming back.” I would rather send you the funds.” He, too, kept his word and became one of our strongest supporters. Ellie and James Carr came on a short-term trip as college students and years later have returned with their daughter to help out for the long haul. Even people like Jared Vaughn that haven’t been back to Guatemala in a long time, but their time here helped inspire him to go as a career missionary to Asia.

 

Guatemala 001 - Version 2People need to see the need. A friend of mine always says, “How can your heart weep for that which your eyes have not seen?” There must be a measure of coming and doing, but it needs to be balanced, purposeful, and done right. Short-term teams come to work alongside those on the field permanently, not to give them more work. Large groups can advance a particular labor intensive job quickly. Simply, the team’s presence lets the locals know someone cares. Teachers come and train people with new skills and talents. Medical teams come to provide a service many couldn’t afford. Finally, they encourage those of us here on the field long-term.

 

We look forward to seeing you on a short-term team soon. As I always pray, “May your eyes, your ears and your heart be open to sense what God is telling YOU to do.”Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 1.52.46 PM

Laboring Together for the Poor,

Nathan Hardeman
Executive Director & Founder
Engadi Ministries, Intl.

 

Engadi Transformation Center Improvements

Yesterday, the Anderson University mission team was the first to begin work on the Engadi Transformation Center located in Paraíso. The team worked to clean and renovate the center so that it will be a safe location to hold Bible studies, meetings and other Engadi events. We thank Anderson University for their partnership in bringing hope and brotherhood to Paraíso.

#engadi

The AU team cleaning and priming the walls.

The AU team cleaning and priming the walls.

The AU team cleaning and priming the walls.

The AU team cleaning and priming the walls.

The boards from the wall that was removed were repurposed to create a room around a downstairs bathroom.

The boards from the wall that was removed were repurposed to create a room around a downstairs bathroom.

Walls were primed to be painted.

Walls were primed to be painted.

Scraping the walls and ceiling of dust and debris

Scraping the walls and ceiling of dust and debris

The boys from the Derek Program worked alongside the team.

The boys from the Derek Program worked alongside the team.

Juanes helped to remove an unnecessary wall in the center.

Juanes helped to remove an unnecessary wall in the center.

The boys from the Derek Program worked alongside the team.

The boys from the Derek Program worked alongside the team.

Taking out a wall to create more airflow in the ETC

Taking out a wall to create more airflow in the ETC

Anderson University Team Update

The Anderson University missions team has been hard at work on the road that leads to Engadi Ranch over the last two days. The have partaken in several arduous tasks and have pushed through blistered hands and sore backs. Here are a few photos of their hard work over the past two days. Today they are back in Paraíso to help Engadi clean and renovate the recently acquired Engadi Transformation Center. Stay tuned for more team updates!

#engadi #brotherhood #hope

Bringing Christmas to Paraíso

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Engadi Ministries welcomed long-time partners Anderson University back to Guatemala on Saturday afternoon. We are grateful for their yearly December trip to serve with us. One tradition the team continues yearly is to bring Christmas to Paraíso with an annual children’s toy handout. This year, the team came prepared with hundreds of dolls, stuffed animals, and other toys to give to kids who likely will not receive anything else for Christmas.

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To start the afternoon off, families lined up around the block in Paraíso to wait their turn to pick out a toy. Each child was numbered while the team set up “Santa’s Workshop” in a nearby house. While the crowds of people waited, the opportunity was seized to present the Gospel message and the true Christmas story to those standing in line. People were told of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection to pay for their sins, and the hope that they can have through placing their faith in Him. Afterwards, a prayer was led allowing people time to pray for their children, thank God for the gifts, and surrender their lives to Him.

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The team form Anderson worked together with the boys in Engadi’s Derek Program and each child was allowed to pick out a toy or two to keep. Parents were also provided personal hygiene items such as toothpaste, floss, and deodorant while children selected toys. The children greatly enjoyed the time of fellowship with the team from Anderson University, and Santa even made time to make an appearance at the event! All in all, toys were provided to 379 children, and families were presented with the Gospel message of salvation, making for a very merry Christmas in Paraíso!

#engadi #brotherhood #hope

Anderson University provided gifts to 379 children in 2015.

Students from Anderson University spending time hanging out with children in Paraíso.

Anderson University provided toys to 379 children in 2015, and the Gospel message was shared with families at the event.

The Gospel message was shared with families at the event.

Anderson University provided gifts to 379 children in 2015.

Many of the children who came are likely to not receive Christmas gifts due to the poverty in which they live

Anderson University provided gifts to 379 children in 2015.

Children were allowed to select one or two toys each to take home.

Anderson University provided gifts to 379 children in 2015.

Anderson University provided gifts to 379 children in 2015.

Children were ushered to a nearby house by the boys within Engadi's Derek Program where they were allowed to pick out a toy for Christmas.

Children were ushered to a nearby house by the boys within Engadi’s Derek Program where they were allowed to pick out a toy for Christmas.

Children were ushered to a nearby house by the boys within Engadi's Derek Program where they were allowed to pick out a toy for Christmas. Santa even made an appearance!

Santa even and an appearance to see the children in Paraíso pick out their toys!

Anderson University hanging out with children in Paraíso before the event.

Anderson University hanging out with children in Paraíso before the event.