Can Short-term Teams Really Maximize Long-term Ministry?

When it comes to short-term mission trips, a driving conviction we hold is to do short-term trips with the long-term in view. When it comes to short-term mission trips, a driving conviction we hold   is to do short-term trips with the long-term in view. 

“Can short-term teams really maximize long-term ministry?” was a question recently raised by Carlos and Meredith Block, our long-term field partners who live in Peru. This year, Mercy Hill has sent two short-term teams, one short-term intern, and will send another team in September to work with them. Read how the Block’s answer their own question in their most recent newsletter:


Our answer is YES, but ministry effectiveness is directly related to several factors:

Pre-trip preparation: Communication with team on site, praying together, getting to know one another, preparing to teach, and planning outreach events sets teams up for effective ministry. 

Attitude: An attitude of service and flexibility focused on long term relationships and goals is the “being” behind the “doing.”

Ministry: Trusting the Lord and giving Him the glory in all things (even scary and uncomfortable situations) can yield fruit that will last. 

Three teams have joined us since we wrote two months ago, and two more are on the way! These friends demonstrated the above qualities, and as the Lord worked, great things happened.

Mercy Hill Church

Mercy Hill (NC) team visited an indigenous school. Casey, John, Caroline and Jack came well prepared to teach in K-12 for four days. Students heard the Genesis-Jesus story, as well as learning their colors in English. The week ended with a pinning ceremony for class officers, a special school supplies gift for each student, and a trip to the river.

Northeast Bible Church

Part of the Northeast Bible team (TX) built the second floor on the first training center building, while others shared in schools, with local women’s groups, and kids’ clubs. They had a special opportunity to visit a community affected by recent flooding. The team was overwhelmed by their hospitality and encouraged them in their rebuilding process.

Mercy Hill – City Project

Mercy Hill’s City Project College Team served for ten days in three high schools, sharing about Biblical Sexuality and using English to build bridges. They had the unique opportunity to be a part of Achievement Day as indigenous students shared what they’d learned this semester. This was yet another opportunity to plant more seeds and pray for future fruit.

How have teams helped us?

In Numbers: There are only two of us at the moment! Teams bring new faces, energy, and opportunities to introduce our indigenous friends to believers both from the US and other parts of Peru giving a broader picture of the body of Christ.

Reaching Children: Teams who work with youth show their love by spending time with them, having fun and sharing truth.

Encouragement: The indigenous often feel isolated and invisible, but when visitors come, they feel encouraged and affirmed, and their hospitality shines.

Reaching High schoolers: “You attract what you are.” Younger testimonies of salvation and life with Christ have a unique impact in school settings. Women connect with women, as do the men on the construction site.

Mobilizing Prayer: As the Brooke Fraser song says, “now that I have seen, I am responsible.”

Strengthening the Indigenous Church: All of this outreach is planting seeds to mobilize the indigenous church to extend His Kingdom. 


Are you next? 

Mercy Hill is committed to sending teams and individuals to partner with the Blocks to make disciples among the indigenous people of Peru. It’s not too late for women of Mercy Hill to go with us as we train and encourage the indigenous natives this September. 

Bryan Miller (Connections/Missions Director)

Diversity in Baptism

On Sept 13th our church experienced an absolute out pouring of the Holy Spirit in our services! The Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 12:3 that no one can say “Jesus is Lord” but by the Spirit of God. 40 times over 3 services people got into the baptismal water and declared publicly that Jesus was the Lord of their life. The Spirit was moving like crazy and to make the day even more special, it was our church’s 3rd birthday. During the baptisms I couldn’t help but praise God for one particular aspect of what we were seeing; the diversity in the water. In at least 3 ways we saw a wide range of people coming to declare publicly what God had done in their life.

 

First, the ages ran from 8 to 66. It was incredible to see people from various stages of life coming in obedience to Jesus. We know that the Gospel is simple enough for a child to grasp, yet strong enough to grasp adults of all ages. We say that God is after the nations but the nations are made up of all generations. A testament to the beauty of the Gospel is seeing people get it both young and not so young. Second, we saw people baptized of different races. Revelation 5 paints a picture for us of people from every tribe and tongue praising Jesus in the end. God is glorified in the diversity of people who hold him valuable. Finally, we had almost as many men get baptized as women. In seeing men and women rotate in and out of the water I was reminded that all barriers are broken down and this Gospel message is for all.

 

I praise God like crazy for what He did in our services on the 13th. But in praising Him over one outpouring we must remember to beg him for another.

-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)

From Baltimore

The city of Baltimore is the latest to draw national attention to the racial tensions and injustices in our country. Here is a request for solidarity and prayer from one of our partner church planters, Pastor Brad O’Brien at Jesus Our Redeemer in Baltimore, MD:

Sadly many people will build assumptions about our city based on what they see online or on cable, but this is our city and we love our city. 

Please pray for our city! In my opinion, I feel like this could escalate far beyond where it is right now. On Friday the Baltimore Police Department is set to release their findings from the 6 officers that arrested Freddie Gray. That in and of itself could be a major catalyst for more violence. 

There is no hope for our city apart from Jesus. We know that and we believe that with all our heart and soul. This brings us to believe that the Gospel changes everything – even cities like Baltimore. Our city has a lot of problems that have been ignored and overlooked for a long time and this is bringing them to the surface for a global audience. 

It is no accident that we are in this city and God has given us a deep love for this city. Please stand alongside of us and pray with us as we ask for God to use what is intended for evil for His glory and the good of our city.  

The temptation for us is to take a “that’s terrible for them” stance and not acknowledge that racism pervades our own streets and hearts unless rooted out by the Gospel. Let the news reports instead prompt us to pray against evil prejudices. Let it foster a longing for Christ’s Kingdom to come when people of every ethnicity will worship Him in unity and jubilation. And let it challenge us to broaden our relationships across cultural divides so that the transforming power of the Gospel and manifest wisdom of God might be displayed in the church.

Join Us As We Pray (Week 4)

Monday, December 8th:

Read: Matthew 28:18

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

Pray…

Often times when we come to this familiar passage in Matthew 28 (known as the Great Commission) we forget this verse. Before we can get into the “going” and “making disciples” piece…it’s essential for us to remember in whose power we are sent. Jesus, the One in whom all authority has been given, is sending us out. In sum…we have solid backing.

  • Pray that God would give you a clear reminder today of whose authority we have been sent.


Tuesday, December 9th:

Read: Matthew 28:19-20

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Pray…

The remainder of the Great Commission is clear…we have a calling. And that calling is to go and make disciples. It’s not a one time deal or a “someday when…” deal. It’s an every day…every situation kind of deal. Ask yourself today…what does it look like for you to go?   How are you integrally working in response to the gospel to make disciples?

  • Ask God to give you a clear understanding of how your life can be lived on mission in fulfillment of the Great Commission.
  • Pray that God would provide clear direction in specific ways you can give generously (of your time, money, and resources) to see the mission of God go forward here in Greensboro.


Wednesday, December 10th:

Read: Ephesians 2:10

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Pray…

It’s still somewhat of a divine mystery to me that God chooses to use us to fulfill His mission. It seems more reasonable at times to think that He could just do it Himself. But as the Bible so clearly reminds us…God uses us. Bottom line. That’s pretty incredible. What a privilege to be used by God in our home, our workplace, at the gym, overseas…wherever God has placed us.

  • Thank God today that He has created you to fulfill His mission. Thank God that He uses you.
  • Pray that God would give you a clear understanding of where you can be specifically used and how you can be used to fulfill His mission.


Thursday, December 11th:

Read: Psalm 67:1-3

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!”

Pray…

Two words should stick out to us in this passage. The first is “people” and the second is “all”. God’s mission includes people from every walk of life…every culture…every race…you get the picture. That means as we give to the mission of God we are giving to see Psalm 67:3 fulfilled.

  • Pray that God would use us to see the gospel go forward to every corner of the earth.

  • Ask God to use us as a church to see all nations praise Him.


Friday the 12thand Saturday the 13th:

Read: Isaiah 12

“You will say in that day: ‘I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.’ ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’ And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. ‘Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.’”

Pray…

Our pray should be to see the reality of Isaiah come to fruition in the lives of our friends, neighbors, and family members. As a church, we want to see the words Isaiah sung from people that know they are far from God (irreligious) and people who don’t even know they are far from God (religious). What would it look like for you to be a part of that in your personal sphere of influence and through Mercy Hill Church?

  • As you read through this paragraph of praise in Isaiah…ask God to give you a clear understanding of what He has done for you in the gospel.

  • Pray that God would use that reminder to propel you forward on mission for His glory.

Join Us As We Pray (Week Three)

Monday, December 1st:

Read: Matthew 7:11

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Pray…

Jesus sets up this comparison between us (who are sinful and evil) and God (who is perfect and holy). And the point is clear. What parent does not want to give good gifts to his children?! If God is the perfect Father why should we doubt that His intentions and desires for us are any different? In fact, His desires and gifts to us far outweigh what we can give our children.

  • What are some ways you have seen the goodness of God the Father in your life (maybe even make a list)? Thank God today for being a good Father who gives good gifts to His children.

  • Pray and ask God that His goodness demonstrated towards you would push you to be generous.


Tuesday, December 2nd:

Read: Philippians 4:19

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Pray…

Think about that for a second. God promises to supply all of our needs. How many times do we doubt that? How many times today have you doubted that? Rest assured. God promises to meet our needs – He has done so foremost in Christ – and He will do so in every other dimension of our lives.

  • Today, confess any doubt, worry, or fear that you have regarding God’s ability to meet your needs.
  • Pray that God – through His Spirit – would empower you to trust Him. Why…because He’s trustworthy.


Wednesday, December 3rd:

Read: Matthew 6:19-24

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Pray…

Sometimes we just need a little perspective. In these verses, Jesus gives us perspective….eternal perspective. He reminds us that the things of this earth are passing away…they are fleeting. But the things of God are eternal. Let’s remember this week that the mission of God as lived out here at Mercy Hill is eternal.

  • Ask God to search your heart today and ask yourself the question…what master do you serve?
  • Honestly pray today and ask God to help you think about involvement in the “For His Name” initiative. Ask for wisdom and guidance according to the kingdom principle from today’s verses.


Thursday, December 4th:

Read: James 1:17

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Pray…

Note James’ emphasis on every. Sometimes we’re guilty of thinking that God’s gifts are things like salvation, Bibles, and K-Love (well maybe not that one). But the Bible is clear that everything we have is a gift from God. Can you sit today in that truth? Can you allow the reality that everything you see, possess, and own is a gift from God?

  • Today make a running list of all of the ways that God’s grace has been poured out over your life (job, house, car, kids, education, etc…).
  • Spend the day thanking God as you continue to add to your list.


Friday the 5thand Saturday the 6th:

Read: 2 Samuel 22

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”

Pray…

In this chapter we get an up close look at a heart that is overflowing with worship. Davis is reflecting on the person of God and the actions of God. And what comes out is pure worship. Our hope as a church is that in reflecting week in and week out on the gospel our lives would overflow with worship.

  • Go through 2 Samuel 22 and note: the examples of God’s goodness, where David talks about God’s provision; and examples of God’s generosity.

Join Us As We Pray (Week Two)

Monday, November 24th:

Read: John 14:6

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Pray…

Tim Keller says that our hearts are idol factories. We are constantly seeking out a piece of creation to replace the Creator. Jesus reminds us so clearly in the gospel of John that there is no joy outside of following after him.

  • Pray that God would help you to root out idols in your life…places you look for joy outside of the joy found in the gospel.
  • By the power of His Holy Spirit, pray that God would remind you every day of the eternal and lasting joy found in Him.


Tuesday, November 25th:

Read: Psalm 28:7

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

Pray…

Refuge and shelter are a human necessity. And just like physical shelter is essential for our physical body – spiritual shelter and refuge is essential for our soul. In God we find refuge…refuge from our sin, and the fallenness around us and refuge from the brokenness of this world.

  • Ask God to show you places that you run for refuge and strength that are not Him.
  • Pray that God would give you a clear reminder today of this verse and in doing so every decision you make would be rooted in the promises found here.


Wednesday, November 26th:

Read: Psalm 130:7

“O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.”

Pray…

Sometimes I think we approach God as if His “love tank” has run up on us. As if there’s going to be a time where he’s had enough of us. The psalmist reminds us here that this is not true nor will it ever be true. God is a God of unfailing and steadfast love.

  • Thank God today that He is an eternally patient God with unfailing love.
  • Pray today that you would root all your life’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations in the unfailing love and full redemption of God.


Thursday, November 27th:

Read: Luke 2:8-11

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Pray…

In a couple weeks we will celebrate the birth of our Savior. One thing we might miss is that when the angel appeared to the shepherds he said that the joyous news of our Savior’s birth is for all peoples. As a church, we desire to see all peoples in Greensboro and around the world see the ultimate joy found in Jesus.

  • Pray that God would continue to use us as a church to take the message of joy to all peoples…in Greensboro and around the world.
  • Ask God how he would specifically use you to see this fulfilled – how can you be generous with your time, money, and resources to see the message of joy go forward? 


Friday the 28thand Saturday the 29th:

Read: Luke 1:46-55

“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Pray…

You can just hear in Mary’s song a heart that is filled with joy. Her words help remind us that pure and lasting joy is found in the greatness of our God. It should be our desire for our hearts to sing as Mary’s did because we have found our lasting joy in the good news of the gospel.

  • Use Mary’s prayer today and tomorrow to allow your heart to be captivated (or re-captivated) by the gospel.

Join us as we pray! (Week One)

Monday, November 17th:

Read: Exodus 15:11

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” 

Pray…

Right after Israel witnessed one of the most amazing miracles in the Bible (chapt. 14 – God’s parting of the Red Sea) Moses burst into a song of praise. The above verse is a reminder to Israel and to us that there is no god like our God.

  • Today as you pray ask God to remind you that there is no other god like our God.
  • As you read God’s Word, pray that God would help you to clearly see his majesty, greatness, and glory. 


Tuesday, November 18th:

Read: Psalm 48:1

“Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!”

Pray…

J.I. Packer says, “When the Bible speaks of God as being on high and in heaven; the thought here is not that God is far distance from us in space, but that he is far above us in greatness, and therefore is to be adored.” Seeing the greatness of God will elicit in us a response of praise and worship to God.

  • Today as you pray…sit and reflect on the greatness of our God.
  • As you reflect on the greatness of God, thank Him specifically for the ways in which He has demonstrated His greatness in your life. 


Wednesday, November 19th:

Read: Colossians 1:15-20

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Pray…

The clearest picture of God’s greatness, His glory, and His majesty is in the revealed person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the image of the one and only God. Who God is – in all of the fullness of His glory – has been clearly shown to us in Jesus.

  • As you are praying today thank God for sending Jesus to live a perfect life for you and yet die the death you deserved…in your place.
  • Allow the weight of God’s glory – seen through His Son – to sink deep into your heart and move you to worship. 


Thursday, November 20th:

Read: Isaiah 43:7

“For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you, I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
 

Pray…

God has created us with purpose. And that purpose is found centrally in bringing Him glory. Each day when we wake we must remember that our greatest endeavor…our lasting call is to bring the God of this universe glory with every ounce of our being and with every last dimension of our lives.

  • Today pray and ask God to remind you that He has created you with a purpose and that purpose is to glorify Him.
  • Ask God to help you see specific ways (e.g. your job, your finances, your marriage) in your life where you can glorify Him. 


Friday the 21st and Saturday the 22nd:

Read: Job 38-39

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. ‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?’”

Pray…

One of the greatest conversations in Scripture is found here at the end of Job. God addresses Job and in doing so He gives example after example of how His greatness is on display before our eyes…every single day. When we look around through the lens of God’s glory we see how His greatness is on display constantly.

  • As you read this passage – write out the specific ways in which God talks about His greatness on display as Creator and in creation.
  • Pray throughout today that God would give you eyes to see His greatness on display in your life.
  • Lastly, pray that God would give you a proper response of worship in light of who He is and the abounding greatness of His glory on display.

Pray for Peru

This week Mercy Hill sent three of our members to Peru to continue working alongside the Yanesha people to advance the gospel in a hard to reach place. The Yanesha are a native indigenous people numbering approximately 11,000 living peppered in small villages throughout the central Peruvian jungle. Less than 1% of Yanesha have a relationship with Jesus. Our desire is to see a church planting movement among the Yanesha so that there is a sustainable gospel witness for generations to come. 

This is a God-sized goal and we as a church are committed even if it takes years. Our strategy is to frequently send small teams to build relationships and model living ordinary life with gospel intentionality. Already, we God has given us favor with many Yanesha because we sent teams back and revisited. Let us pray that the current team would not only be received favorably for coming back, but would have many opportunities to tell the Yanesha of the ultimate One – Jesus – who was sent from heaven to earth to pay the penalty for sin and give everlasting life. 

  • Pray for the team members: Clay, Jack and David
  • Pray for a hunger for God among the Yanesha
  • Pray barriers to the gospel would be removed
Let the peoples praise you, O God; Let all the peoples praise you! Psalm 67:3

Pray for the Persecuted Church in Iraq

We have all seen the headlines about the atrocities being committed against believers in Iraq.  We want to encourage each of you, if you are not already doing so, to start praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray not only for their relief, but also that God would give them joy in the middle of their sorrow and that the Gospel would only spread through their suffering just as it did through Paul’s suffering in Philippians chapter 1 when he said, 

“I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the Gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is for Christ.” (Philippians 1:12-13)