Where have you previously served on short-term mission trips? I asked this question while sitting around the airport for countless hours with a newly formed short-term mission team. I heard the responses with great interest. I discovered the locations and contexts in which fellow team members previously served. The question provided the opportunity to appreciate what the Lord is doing around the globe.
However, I recently reconsidered this question. From one perspective, a mission trip can (and perhaps should) continue well past its one or two-week window. I realized that the August 2022 short-term trip on which I served is continuing one year later. The short-term became long-term because of God’s grace and for His glory.
In 2022, my local church partnered with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to serve Ukrainian refugees in Moldova. The team desired to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of these displaced people. On August 1st a team of a dozen church members landed in Chișinǎu, the capital of Moldova. Before that day, I prayed that the week would include many gospel conversations. The Lord answered that prayer.
My relationship with one refugee in particular led to many gospel conversations throughout the week. Our relationship began upon arrival at Chișinǎu airport. He had accompanied a Moldovan believer to help load the perhaps all-too-bulky American baggage. During the one-hour ride to our destination, he and I discovered that we both enjoyed studying history. A friendship was formed immediately.
My friend was not a believer. However, he was open to discussing the gospel and the history of Christianity. The Lord provided opportunities for gospel conversations during our discussions about history, politics, and economics. Christianity’s impact in these areas created natural avenues to turn the conversation to spiritual matters.
Those gospel conversations also provided the opening to dig deeply into God’s word. Each evening, myself, my friend, and other team members would gather late at night for Bible study. We examined the Gospels, discussed hard questions, prayed together, and believers shared how the Lord changed their hearts through the gospel.