We do 2 – 3 short-term trips per year which exist to strengthen our long-term partnerships in SE Asia. These are great opportunities to meet our partners firsthand, to be exposed to the work of God’s kingdom around the world and to be shaped and formed as a follower of Jesus in the 21st century by an international perspective on the gospel. Short-term trips provoke a number of good questions:
¨ They are expensive: is this the best use of money? Trips cost a lot, wouldn’t it be better to give that money to international initiatives that are making a difference?
¨ They are traveler-centered: is this the best use of people? Trips tend to focus more on the experience of the person going and can distract the time, attention and energy of locals from the work that God has called them to.
¨ They are inefficient: is this the best use of time? Trips do not make as significant a long-term difference on the ground as does the ongoing presence and sacrificial lives of those who live there long-term. Is this a good stewardship of time: both ours and theirs?
These are important questions to be taken seriously and are some of the reasons we intentionally do not undertake a large number of short-term trips. We do, however, believe strongly in the short-term trips we do and we have established the following criteria as the basis under which our short-term trips are undertaken:
¨ Long-term Partnership: our short-term trips are only conducted in the broader context of a long-term relationship with our international partners. The trips are not an end in themselves but serve the broader goal of nurturing our long-term relationships with our international partners.
¨ Valuing Local Leadership: our international partners are given priority in determining what trips will look like. We believe in the leaders we partner with and trust them so we submit to their local leadership and vision in what takes place during a trip and how it is done.
¨ Taking Servants: those who go on our short-term trips go as ambassadors of Imago Dei. They represent our local church body with our long-term partners in the context of our broader relationship. For this reason, we focus on sending trip participants who are mature followers of Jesus significantly involved leading and serving in the life of our local church body at home. They are thus able to represent our church body well to our long-term partners, and upon returning home represent our long-term partners well to our local church body. Because they are leading and serving here at home, our goal is that as a global vision of God’s kingdom infuses their discipleship it would come to infuse our cultural DNA as a local church body in Portland through them.
¨ Being over Doing: we emphasize the discipleship of our trip participants rather than the accomplishment of projects. We recognize long-term, gospel-centered transformation in a community comes not through us but through the local body of Christ. Our goals are thus relationally-centered around our partners, rather than project-centered around us. While we never go to just sit on our hands (all trips tend to be pretty busy), the nature of what we do and how we do it is oriented around our relationship with and submission to our international partners. Teams go through significant preparation together before the trip and debrief together upon returning in part to facilitate this discipleship / being orientation over a project / doing orientation.
¨ Bringing Partners Here: because the emphasis is on the long-term relationship rather than the trip itself, we also prioritize bringing our partners over here to be with us. We seek to bring, at a minimum, one of our indigenous partners a year to Portland to preach on a Sunday, mentor and disciple our leaders and speak into our formation as a church body from a global perspective.
¨ Context of Globalization: we live at a unique time in history when international travel is relatively fast, accessible and inexpensive. For all the benefits and problems of globalization, our world has become radically interconnected with an inordinate amount of wealth, influence and power centered in the Western world. We believe as 21st century followers of Jesus coming from the Western world it is important that our discipleship and understanding of God’s kingdom is informed and shaped in integral relationship with the Majority World church. We need their perspective and experience if we are to have a healthy understanding of the gospel in our world today. Short-term trips are not the only way, but they are one way, we seek to live into this international vision of following Jesus in the 21st century through relationships of mutuality with the global body of Christ.
To find out more details about upcoming trips, contact Josh Butler, Pastor of Global Outreach: .