Short-term missions—long-term goals
Romania | Janet WeberFrom 22-28 November, 30 OM short-term mission coordinators gathered in the snow-covered city of Sibiu, Romania, for the sixth annual Short-Term Missions (STM) Forum. The group, from 14 nationalities, represented 22 different OM fields, mostly from Europe.
The theme of the week, “Short-term mission—long-term goals”, summarised the purpose of the forum, which was to impart vision and give motivation to the leaders of short-term missions, provide information and training and share resources.
Throughout the week, the group received training on partnering with the local church, communications, member care and best practices and procedures for sending and receiving for missions.
“We accomplished more than what I hoped for,” said Luzia, who coordinated the forum. “Many new short-term coordinators came who needed training asked many good questions and engaged a lot.”
In addition to the training, participants connected with each other, encouraging and helping one another in their roles, which some found very valuable. “There was a real sense of connection, sharing experiences and encouraging one another,” said Luzia.
The group spent the final two days of the forum doing outreach in Sibiu and surrounding villages to put into action what they had discussed the previous few days. Splitting into three groups on Friday, participants prepared for the outreach and prayed for those they would meet.
Though the outside temperature was minus five degrees Celsius and a few participants felt intimidated by the task ahead, the weekend outreach proved to be an overall highlight.
Many were struck by the needs of the families they visited. “Our hearts broke when we entered some of the homes, because of the poverty!” said Chrisma, a South African participant with the team visiting Nou, a village about 20 kilometres from Sibiu. “Coming to these homes to encourage them and suddenly being faced with the difficulties people faced left us crying out to God for wisdom and words of knowledge!”
In one home, the team asked the lady how they could pray for her, and she burst into tears. “We felt helpless,” remembered Chrisma. “But when we started praying and afterwards sharing testimonies, we could see God ministering to her heartfelt need of loneliness and love.” In the end, Chrisma knows that God comforted the woman even though the team had nothing but encouraging words to offer.
Another group stayed in Sibiu to walk around the city and pray for it. “I was told that if you want to pray for a city, go to a high place and pray over the city,” said Anna from the UK. “So, we climbed up the church tower—all 182 steps!”
Anna and her teammates prayed for the places they could see from the four corners of the tower. They also had an opportunity to share with the lady collecting the visitors’ fee from those climbing the steps. “She was quite open to talking about God and what she believed,” said Anna. “She used to go to an evangelical church, but there was something that had happened so she didn’t go any more. It was great because we passed two people coming down when we went up and two people coming up when we went down—it was like God had given us that time to be with her.”
The third team went to Agnita, a village about 60 kilometres northeast of Sibiu. There they discovered the passion Romanian churches have for the Lord. They visited various churches in the area to speak at prayer meetings and church services. Regardless of the number of people in attendance—some churches had only 10 members—the congregations wholeheartedly worshiped God. Numerous times during the services everyone stood up to pray together with voices joined in unison, crying out to God.
“These two days were a great encouragement for me to see the church in Romania,” said Simon, the international short-term coordinator, from South Korea. “The prayer meeting we went to Saturday afternoon and the way they pray and cry out to God reminded me of how the church in South Korea started to cry out to the Lord in the early church history. Through this, I saw there is a hope in the church in Romania, because God will hear their cry.”
Though the teams only did outreach for two days, they know that the impact will be lasting, both for them and those they met.
Anna, who helped run the forum concluded: “To have this opportunity to bond with fellow co-workers through training and hands on ministry is invaluable to us whether we’re based in a sending field office or looking for renewed vision how to develop outreach opportunities and prayer for receiving countries.”