RIPPLES ACROSS NORTH AMERICA: THE EFFECT OF SHORT-TERM MISSIONS
Perhaps as a child, or even as an adult, you enjoyed tossing a handful of stones into a smooth, glassy pond and standing by to watch the multiple ripple rings collide with one another in an endless array of patterns. In many ways, there are similar spiritual ripples of transformation, ministry and change that occur as churches and Christians get tossed into the pond of short-term missions all across North America.
Maybe you noticed that some ripples are small. One could compare them to a New England church serving with another New England church or ministry for an event or for a week. For example, members of Friendship Baptist Church in Litchfield, Conn., helped lead Vacation Bible School at Beacon Baptist Fellowship in Thomaston, Conn., and All Nations Baptist Church in Danbury, Conn., in addition to leading ESL classes for immigrants and English-language worship at All Nations. Churches that have the necessary resources to do all the preparation for this valuable children’s ministry are uniquely positioned to assist churches that have fewer resources.
Then there are churches like Western Mountains Baptist Church in New Portland, Maine, coming alongside Set Free church plant in Skowhegan, Maine, to help with building renovations, including roofing repair and clean up, last fall. Friendship Baptist Church of Litchfield also got involved by connecting a contractor by the name of Rick Utenis to come and provide replacement windows and their installation. It doesn’t matter how big or small a church is, there are opportunities to strengthen God’s kingdom right here in New England.
The BCNE assists churches in making needs just like these known through our New England mission opportunities page, our On Missions BCNE Facebook presence and our numerous connections with partners throughout the year. In this way, churches can pray, connect and serve all around New England. We share links and information for opportunities outside New England as well.
Larger ripples are felt all over North America when churches make use of their time, finances and people to serve on mission outside of New England. Faith for Life Church of Castleton, Vt., and sister church Foundation Church, both led by pastor Branden Rogers, have had an ongoing partnership with Renaissance Church, a NAMB church plant in the Little Burgundy neighborhood of Montreal, Canada. More than 30 people have participated in four trips to Montreal in the last 16 months, and Renaissance has reciprocated by sending members to serve in Vermont, as well.
Then there is pastor David Um and Antioch Baptist Church of Cambridge, Mass., who came alongside founder and pastor emeritus Paul and Rebekah Kim’s effort to catalyze a new church plant, Frontier Baptist Church, in Fairbanks, Alaska. A team from Antioch, along with other teams from the Kims' network of churches, traveled to Alaska to aid with prayerwalking, moving the church planting families and attending the first worship service.
Most churches planning short-term mission trips out of state take 6 to 10 months to prepare. It takes time to plan, raise funds to go, work out logistics and prepare spiritually, but on occasion some churches have to prepare hastily. This was the case for River of Life Church in Newton, Mass., and Precision Valley Baptist Church in Springfield, Vt., both led by pastor Lierte Soares. When River of Life Church in Port Vincent, La., experienced catastrophic flooding from a 20-inch rain storm in August 2016, the church urgently needed assistance to rebuild. The Port Vincent church had commissioned Soares, so the congregation was close to his heart. He organized a joint-church team of five to travel to Louisiana and help in the rebuild process.
Sometimes New England pastors or church members go on short-term mission outside New England to stir others to serve here. Pastor Russ Rathier of Washington Baptist Church in Washington, Vt., went to North Carolina for the state mission conference last April and will do so again this March with Boyce Brogden, director of Carpenter’s Hands Ministry of Vermont. Rathier also preached at several churches, encouraging people to come to New England to serve and/or plant churches.
Kentucky governor Matt Bevins once said, “While it may seem small, the ripple effect of small things is extraordinary.” In churches serving on short-term mission in North America, small things result in extraordinary ripples of benefits to God’s kingdom work near and far and to both the receiving and sending churches who are changed, discipled and molded into the image of Christ.
Tim Buehner is the mobilization and ministry evangelism coordinator at the Baptist Convention of New England.