Short Term Missions--Jesus and the Disciples (#2)
by Bob Young

In the previous article, we suggested that the idea of short-term missions can be traced to Jesus. We examined the story of John 4, the woman at the well, as an example of cross-cultural interaction. We concluded that the disciples struggled with many of the same issues that challenge STMs today: failure to "see" the people and the potential, a too-narrow understanding of God's work, the tendency to do good works (humanitarian activities) for God without fulfilling God's eternal purpose of sharing Jesus, and the failure to bring the work to completion.

Another encounter of Jesus and his disciples with the Samaritans is recounted in Luke 9. This event occurs as Jesus begins his final trip to Jerusalem to be crucified. Certainly, this event is after the encounter with the Samaritans and the woman at the well.

Jesus and his disciples are again traveling through Samaria. They are again on the "mission field," surrounded by a strange culture. They are back where they have been before. This is a repeat STM. Have they learned anything? When Jesus sends ahead to make arrangements, he and his group are refused. Upon hearing of the rejection, James and John are ready to call down fire to destroy them. Effective missions demonstrated: when people won't listen, turn up the heat! Give them a little more hellfire and brimstone (literally!).

Jesus doesn't rebuke the Samaritans-they are just acting like Samaritans. Jesus rebukes James and John, because they are not acting like disciples. That some reject Jesus does not mean that all will reject him. Another village will receive him.

The success of an STM is not measured by the immediate results. Most participants in STM trips will not see the ultimate fruit of their labors. Still, our commitment must be to taking the Good News to as many people as possible so that God's Word can bear fruit.

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Last updated May 15, 2008.