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Making a Difference on Short Term Outreaches

John Henry, Director

Okay. So you wanted to make a difference on outreach. You wanted to change lives for the better and you wanted Jesus to be proclaimed in the community he sent you. If you’re one of the over two million short-term missions participants sent out from America every year, you expected to see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on your outreach. You prayed and you sacrificed. Your friends and family supported you. Then you came home celebrating! But that’s not where the story ends. That’s the time when you pray, “Lord, how can we do even better on our next missions trip?”

YWAM Ocean City, one of over 1000 YWAM locations around the world, began with the most important thing: a word from the Lord. I heard a still small voice saying: “Run the Discipleship Training School.” We ran the first DTS in 2016 with two outreach teams; one to Albania, where dozens of young people came to Christ, and one to India, where we did medical and dental work in slums and leprosy colonies. We focus primarily on discipleship (To know God) and outreach (To make God known).

We’ve sent outreach teams, interns, and staff to Albania, the Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. We have hosted YWAMers from Australia, South Africa, and China to partner with us in short term programs in South Jersey, and four Converge interns are currently serving in Lebanon and South Jersey. We are sending out at least five more short term outreach teams in 2018, to Northern Ireland, Orlando, and Atlantic City in March, and to India and Mexico later this year. We are asking God to help us do even better with every outreach.

We have a small but growing staff team, with Lee Clark recently joining us to head up special events and spearhead local outreaches, and Rachel Pahnisch joining us very soon to work in communications. In our discipleship classes, we have been learning about how the Bible defines poverty and we have been exploring ways to do local and international outreach more effectively.

Participants in our discipleship classes are learning that many short-term missions teams, despite their good intentions, do more harm than good. We are learning how to avoid harming people and ourselves on short-term outreaches. We are learning how to make a difference in the communities by learning how to walk with the poor in humble relationships, rather than providing temporary handouts to them. We are learning how to walk with people who are poor in ways that lead to lasting change. And we are learning to serve as ambassadors of reconciliation in our own communities.

As our team grows, we will continue to get better at connecting, equipping, and sending a new generation of missionaries.

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