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A Long-Term Missionary Shares: Is Short-Term Mission Worth the Effort?

Is short-term mission worth it? It’s an important question that many people ask; in fact, it’s a question we ask before ever sending a short-term worker to a country. Clarissa felt led to Cambodia for her Serve Asia trip, but because of the timing, the host questioned whether it was worth her coming. Paul shares from his point of view about hosting a Serve Asia worker.


What were your reservations about hosting Clarissa?

When Clarissa applied to work as my intern at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Cambodia, I was ambivalent. Would her Serve Asia placement be worth the organizational effort half way through the academic year?

You spoke with her via Skype before she came. What was that like?

The Serve Asia coordinator for Canada had journeyed with her well; persevering to arrange an autumn 2016 Skype call with me in Phnom Penh. Clarissa had completed the Serve Asia application process and wanted to work with me for the first four months of 2017 as I lectured in Urban Design at RUFA.

I concluded the Skype call by advising her that I couldn’t give her any assurance of practice or experience as the Cambodian university environment I was in could be ‘changeable.’ I encouraged her to be as flexible as possible with both her expectations and practice. None of this managed to prevent her from coming at the start of January!

After she had been in Cambodia for some time, did you still have reservations or feel her coming was a waste?

Four months later I concluded that Clarissa’s placement was very worthwhile and a privilege to host. From the moment she arrived in Cambodia her attitude was always positive and willing to ‘have a go…’ even though she was nervous and sometimes out of her depth.

By April, Clarissa had created great connections with a number of students (something I could never do as their teacher); spending time with them, befriending and witnessing to them.

She also produced some excellent urban design work that included a translated book of interviews, exhibition publicity and an architectural tract. Clarissa had also learned more about her own character and future life ambitions.

Hosting a Serve Asia worker like Clarissa was worth the organizational effort. It was great to journey with her for those four months of short-term mission and to see God working through her personally and with the people she connected with too. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Clarissa.

Initially it seemed like it might be a waste of time and resources for Clarissa to go on this trip to Cambodia. Yet, God used her to bless others and connect with students in a way that wasn’t possible for Paul, the long-term worker to do. Together, short-term and long-term workers can make a stronger team and work together to accomplish God’s will in mission. If you’d like to read about Clarissa’s story, she shares what life is like after a short-term mission trip.

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