Long-Term Impact

León, Nicaragua in mid-August is extremely predictable: 90 degrees with almost 100% humidity, and the threat of thunderstorms is ever-present. Yet, what happened in my life on one August day in León was far from predictable.

I was 16 – young, and generally ignorant when it came to cross-cultural experiences. I had barely spent time out of the East Coast, let alone out of the country. So when I found myself in a small orphanage in rural Nicaragua on a short-term missions team, I guess you could say I was out of my comfort zone. 

Although I was out of my comfort zone, God used that moment to open my heart to be more in tune with His. On the porch, in that orphanage, in an extremely predictable afternoon thunderstorm in Nicaragua, I felt the Lord impress upon my spirit what He wanted me to do next: serve His Kingdom through long-term ministry. This moment, almost 8 years ago to the day, birthed a passion in me for short-term missions and how crucial they can be in allowing God to speak His long-term plan for His children.

Our God is ‘Missio Dei’ – a missional God. He is sending people from everywhere to everywhere, so that His Gospel may be made known among the nations. While I believe that the key to missions is long-term relational commitments around the world, I also believe that God can use a short-term team to open up our eyes to the ways in which He would have us play a part in His plan for the long-term. God used a short-term experience to reveal His long-term plan for my life, and I believe that He can and will do it again in the lives of those who open themselves to Him.

Written by: Renee Gillespie, Short-Term Teams Coordinator for United World Mission