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Striking the Match

April 14, 2011

Trevin Wax interviews George G. Robinson, author of the new book, Striking the Match: How God is Using Ordinary People to Change the World Through Short-Term Missions.  From the interview:

Trevin Wax: What do you say to the person who points out the financial cost? Let’s say you’ve got a team of 12 who go on an overseas trip. It’s going to cost them about $25,000. Sometimes the missionary thinks, We could do so much ministry with that money!

George Robinson: Behind that objection lies a hidden assumption: God has limited resources, and if these resources are used on short-term mission teams, they won’t be available for long-term missionaries. I don’t accept that assumption as valid. God’s resources are limitless. The question is about how we prioritize these resources. At the heart of it all, this debate is a faith issue.

Could you do more training of nationals if the short-term team stayed home and sent you $25,000? Absolutely. That kind of money would go a long way on the front end. But when short-term mission teams are on the field and the missionaries figure out a way to plug them into the ongoing strategy, then you’re not only making a financial investment, but also a broader investment. The short-term visitors may end up joining your team long-term. Or they may end up being long-term partners, financial and in other ways. The $25,000 looks like a bad investment on the front end, but that sum represents twelve people who – if over the course of their lifetime give just $100 – could wind up supplying the long-term missionary with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Instead of seeing the big picture, too often we’re looking at things through a very narrow perspective. We think of resources as the limited piece of a pie instead of thinking how to use short-term teams to our advantage. And what happens when we fail to utilize short-term teams? We inoculate them to our mission. They go away thinking they’re not needed. They think their finances aren’t needed either.

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