Seeing God Work Through Short-term Teams
Friday, May 15, 2015 at 04:47AM
Love Help Teach

By Alicia Jones

Can short term mission teams really make any difference? There is much discussion over this question. From my perspective as a coordinator of teams from North Carolina to Eastern Europe I would have to say, "Yes!"The following four stories show how I've seen teams make a difference in individual lives; some visits have a momentary, yet significant impact, other visits have eternal impact. Our responsibility is to be obedient to Christ who taught us to love. We go, we give, we pray and we serve because we are compelled by love. "For Christ's love compels us...therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ's behalf, 'Be reconciled to God.'" (2 Cor. 5:14a, 20)

  1. In summer of 2013, a young girl who had been diagnosed with brain cancer had a delightful time at the VBS offered by the team from NC (see picture). She learned to sing the Christian songs and heard how she could follow Jesus even as a young child, a teaching not too common in her community. Her name is Vivien and the team in April of 2015 went to her house to visit nearly two years later. She was suffering greatly on her deathbed, but she took hope in God. They prayed for her and her family. May 4, 2015 God decided to take her home. The community grieved deeply the loss of this 11 year old girl, but they talk about her incredible child-like faith. God is using her life and her death to bring the people of of this area to Himself.
  2. Maria with the team leader 2014In March of 2014, we thought Maria was a little boy because the community called her by a boy’s name. Her mother moved to a foreign country earlier in 2014, leaving her and her four siblings under the care of their alcoholic father. The team from South Elm Street Baptist church has visited this community every spring since 2013. They love the children there. But last year this little girl got attached to the hip of the team leader. The community explained that she is the youngest in the family and is cared for the least. Her story of suffering brought our local friend to tears along with the team leader. But this year in April when we drove away, Maria crying and my eyes began to tear up because she has become so dear to my heart. Maria loves our local friend and the local leaders who come week by week to hold church services in her community, but she especially loves the visitors from America who love on her. My favorite memory is when I was holding Maria one Sunday during the house church service. She didn’t sing the words to the song, but every time the name Jesus was part of the song she would whisper that name…Jesus. May this child, no matter what life brings, call on that name and be saved!Maria with Alicia Jones
  3. In the summer of 2014, the team saw that the man and his mentally impaired daughter lived in a hole in the ground, covered by a lean-to. Over lunch one day they insisted that they wanted to build this family a house. They got the project started before they finished their week in Romania, and two weeks after they returned to America, the local brothers had finished the house. The mentally impaired daughter, Maria, started attending the church regularly the following winter. She now faithfully and proudly takes the front row seat and shakes hands with everyone during the first ten minutes of every service. Teams visit them when they come and the man tells his story being saved. He claims his clothes are too shabby to go to church, but we continue to pray he will join his daughter on the front row.Mentally impaired Maria with her Father in front of their front porch
  4. In January this year, the teams went to pray for the sick in their homes. After praying for a sick woman named Ilona, the pastor from the U.S.A. turned to the sullen-eyed husband, Joseph, and asked, “Can we pray for you?” The local pastor with us informed the visitors that this man is not a believer. Nevertheless, he drew closer to the American pastor for prayer. With the new information, the American pastor sat and directed the husband to sit across from him. The pastor asked and it was translated: “Where do you stand with Jesus?” Regretfully, he answered, “Far, very far.” As the truth and good news of the gospel was explained to him simply and straightforward, his whole demeanor lightened visibly. There in our presence, this aged, angry man became a new creation in Christ, as he chose to believe that Jesus died for his sins too. His wife has been a believer for more than 10 years. He announced proudly, “I’m going to get baptized this summer!” Joseph put his faith in Jesus that day in January. The first time I’ve seen Ilona out of the house since that January visit, was at the recent Roma conference held by a team in April. I greeted her excitedly and asked about Joseph. The following Tuesday the team held a men’s program and when I saw Joseph walk through the door I jumped up to help him. Joseph is mostly blind and walks with a cane. Wednesday evening we played the film “Son of God;” again Joseph came. Sunday he was at church once again. 
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