Think of some reasons why people go on short-term ministry trips.
In Romans 1, Paul, the pioneer of global ministry trips, described why he went to Rome. What do you see in the passage? Why was Paul excited about this journey?
What he said in verse 11 sounds similar to what many Westerners say when they talk about their motivation for going on a trip. Paul wrote, “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.” Like Paul, many of us want to go on a missions trip because we have something we want to share with others—love, compassion, resources, training, expertise, etc. We have spiritual gifts that we believe could benefit others. We should be encouraged by the fact that God wants to use us in that way.
But we shouldn’t stop reading at verse 11! I’m afraid far too many missionaries (short- and long-term alike) make that mistake. They think or act as though this is a one-way transaction. They think, “I’m going to give, do, strengthen, help, etc.” Paul started his thoughts this way, but he didn’t end there. He clarified and completed his motives in verse 12 where he said, “that is—that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Paul recognized that this would be a two-way transaction, a reciprocal relationship with mutual encouragement. Look again at verses 8–10 and you’ll see what Paul thought about the believers in Rome. He knew that they had a lot to offer and he had much to gain from them.
Will you bring that same mindset with you on your trip? Will you actively accept the wisdom and leadership of your hosts? Will you put yourself in a position to receive and learn from them? Or, will your sole focus be on solving what you think are their problems and giving what you think they need?
What’s one step you could take to move toward a “mutually encouraging” relationship with the people of God you hope to serve?