What can you do in ten days?

This summer we’ve had five short term teams visit the Aroma, plus there are (at least) another three on their way. These teams usually stay for about ten days and do everything from taking crash courses in Mandarin to street evangelization.

This month has been particularly busy for my family and I because not only have we been part helping short term teams, but we’ve also taken in two new interns (Serena for six weeks, and Laura for a year!) and hosted several friends and partners in ministry (just like yourselves!) in our home. In this case, our friends stayed for about five days each. The picture above is of several of these friends who came to visit.

Often in conversation with all of these people they tell me,

“Sometimes I really wonder how much we can really do in ten days.”

Well… here’s the thing. Everything these friends do with us we’ve already been doing. We invite people into our day to day to experience missions (read God’s work) in a Taipei context. My heart goes out to those that really put a lot of thought into this question because it has such a Western mentality attached to it. One of pure efficiency and success.

It’s far more difficult to place value on intangible things like relationships and encouragement. However, most major world cultures place a far greater value on these intangibles. We have to be willing to accept this value system, not as better or worse, but as equally worth our time and energies for a week. This perspective may even change our own values in the process. (Excerpt from Reimagining Short-Term Missions)

This is, in a nutshell, what I tell our friends. Your encouragement is invaluable. The energy short term teams and partners bring is refreshing.

But, enough of the lecture… instead I’ll give you a story:

A Story about Z

At the beginning of July I was visited by three pastors and an apprentice. They hailed from the Eastern coast of the US of A. They planned to stay four days and three nights just to get a taste of what we do at the Aroma. Little did they know what God had in store.

During their stay they did some street outreach with a group of summer interns. There they met Z, and quickly became interested in the events they were promoting back at our cafe, the Aroma.

Later that evening at the event, laid out part of his story. He grew up with Christian parents, but when he came out to them about his sexual identity they immediately ceased conversation with him. Little did Z, know what God had in store for him, because one of these pastors had a very similar story to share. The two bonded and a bridge restored between and the Church. ended up attending the Aroma Church that following Sunday, too. #PTL

That’s not where this ends though… A week after my pastor friends left, another short-term team arrived at the Aroma. This team happens to be comprised of deaf Americans and some of their friends. This team came specifically to reach out to Taiwan’s deaf community of which 0.0014% are Christians. (Can you say unreached people group?) One of the team’s members is the pastor at The Table Church, and was asked to preach a sermon in ASL to our community. The sermon was translated from ASL to English, to Mandarin and then finally into TSL. This in itself is a unique testimony to how the Body can come together to praise our King, but what I really want to get to is this:

After the service Z, came up and told us that what he’d experienced was the best church service he’d ever been a part of. His parents are both deaf, and he’s never been able to share the Gospel properly with them because of the communication barrier. Now with a place to do so, and a community to back him, we’ll pray that the next bridge in Z‘s life will be mended through Christ’s redeeming work.

I will report back to you with more on Z‘s story, but even without a final chapter this story is so encouraging to me. It shows just how each short-term partner, and even each long-termer for that matter, plays such a small part in God’s ultimate, grand plan. Is that small role worth the time, effort, and money to travel all the way from the USA to Asia? Absolutely. End of conversation.

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