Do short-term mission trips really make a difference?

(Map courtesy City-Data.com)

(Map courtesy City-Data.com)

USA (MNN) — Do short-term mission trips really make an eternal difference? MOSES Inc. is a peer ministry that equips young people for missions. Jerome Richards with MOSES says they occasionally get short-term mission (STM) naysayers.

“Some people think that short-term missions are not a good idea because [volunteers] come in, they work for 10 or 12 days, and then boom: they’re gone; they’re never seen again,” Richards explains. “We try not to do that: we’ve tried to build relationships.”

Through those relationships, an entire community in Mississippi is changing.

In rural Mississippi, the tiny town of McLain used to be full of racial segregation and hopelessness. When MOSES vans first rolled into McLain shortly after Hurricane Katrina, there was plenty for the small town to talk about.

First of all, the ministry’s 15-person van was full of “Northerners.” States belonging to the Union during the U.S. Civil War are still referred to as “The North,” compared to Confederate-associated states known as “The South.”

Richards, an African American, eventually became friends with a Caucasian McLain shop owner. When the shop owner gave Richards and the MOSES group access to her Wi-Fi connection, heads turned.

“That’s not normal, for northerners and southerners to work into that kind of relationship,” explains Richards.

Secondly, the vans carried a bi-racial group. In McLain, strict community lines are drawn between African Americans and Caucasians.

“There’s pretty much a white community section, and then there’s another section of African American community,” recalls Richards.

In addition, friendships between the races were virtually non-existent. Racial intermingling was even forbidden in the Church.

“That was in the beginning; today, things have really changed,” says Richards.

New partnerships are being formed as a result of MOSES’ annual trips to McLain, leading to more practical help for families. In addition, the community’s apprehension of MOSES teams is lessening. Therefore, during MOSES’ annual Spring Break visits, they have more opportunities to plant Gospel seeds.

“The work is really done by the Holy Spirit,” notes Richards. “We share what we can, we do what we can, and we leave the work and change to the Holy Spirit.”

MOSES is taking a team to serve McLain families with light repair work and outreach April 3-12. The trip in its entirety costs $375 USD, and the early registration deadline is March 3.

“That covers their transportation, their food, and everything they need. All they need to do is show up and be willing to work,” says Richards.

After March 3, the trip cost increase to $400, but scholarships are available. Learn how you can be a part of the transformation in McLain here.