View from the Church
My wife and I met on a mission trip in 1992 and we have been blessed to serve together on short-term teams in South America, Central Asia, and South Asia. She serves as missions coordinator at our local church near Philadelphia. While our involvement in missions has been rewarding and encouraging, we have often observed that the interface between the local church and missionaries on the field does not reach its potential, leading to a sense of disconnectedness instead of shared mission. At times, we have even felt guilty that our engagement with missionaries doesn’t extend beyond reading their newsletters and writing checks.
When our church was invited to join the Southeast Asia Partnership, a strategic partnership of churches with a specific heart for Southeast Asia, we took this as a leading from God to develop more intimate relationships with missionaries on the field and to increase awareness of and excitement for missions in our church.
A Broader Perspective
Through this partnership I went on a vision trip with MTW. I’d participated in short-term missions trips before, which were typically task-oriented and in one location. By contrast, the vision trip provided a broader perspective on how God is working in an entire country or region, which challenged me to consider how to more strategically take part in God’s work.
Our team visited three countries in 11 days and we were excited by the varied ways God is working in each country. In two of the countries, we met with local denominational leaders and were privileged to hear the vision these leaders had for their nation. We witnessed very different needs in the third country,
a nation where there was a more developed local church and established MTW missionaries serving on the field. It was encouraging to consider that a church in the U.S. could help bring these visions to reality—that the growth of the kingdom can benefit through a broader, more strategic approach.
The vision trip enabled us to build relationships with MTW missionaries and leadership, and with like-minded churches in the Southeast Asia Partnership. We gained greater insight into how God is leading in each of the countries we visited and how our church could contribute to transform lives through the gospel.
I returned with three distinct but complementary thoughts: I was excited and challenged by God’s work in Southeast Asia; I was motivated for greater involvement in the partnership; and I was encouraged by the implications for my church and its members.
A vision trip helps lay the groundwork for ongoing engagement with the field that continues to build even after the vision trip is over. I’m thankful to have been a part of this trip, which represents just one brief chapter in the unfolding story of how God is working in Southeast Asia.
Conrad Reed is a physician and is involved in missions at Eternal Life Ministries in Horsham, Pennsylvania.