I’ve had  a lot of exposure to short term missions groups over the years. Back in the 80’s when we were planting King of Kings church in Jerusalem, Kathy and I began a short-term ministry called Kibbutz Shalom, which saw hundreds of young people from North America coming to Israel for two months at a time to volunteer on various kibbutzim. It was a huge adventure, contributing about 1.5 mission man hours of work over a seven year span. The participants loved it, claiming it had changed their lives. The Israelis loved it too, often exclaiming what a revelation it was to meet and work with Christians who “LOVE us!” And the families and home churches of these young people also were changed, with a new first-hand view of the culture, history, and day-to-day challenges of life in the Middle East.

These days I’m hearing a similar story from our WOW volunteers. Hundreds of people, of all ages, have gone to Africa to work with our wonderful African volunteers in various projects. They have worked on things like widows gardens (enabling orphans to grow their own food), home-based care visits to the dying, teaching classes or assisting teachers in our community schools, helping in mobile medical clinics, teaching Sunday school, cooking for and feeding orphans, training widows in income-generating skills (tailoring, soap making, tie-dyeing, jewellery making), and so much else. They return home after a few weeks with their lives and worldview radically transformed. And, when I run into them in a church somewhere where I’m speaking, I see the excitement, and the deep conviction to change the world that has overtaken them-and their churches have been transformed by their enthusiasm.

When we first set out 13 years ago to make a difference in Africa, little did we know that the short-term volunteers who would one day join us, would become agents of change right here at home. Short-term missions rules!