Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Trying Not to be Predictable: Our Plan for a Missions Internship Team

Last year, I did a series on re-thinking short-term missions.  I ended it with the challenge to not be so predictable.  The world is changing, missions is changing, and we've seen a lot of the negative side effects of short-term trips.  One idea I presented is to re-think the idea of a service trip, which can often hurt more than help, and to consider the idea of a vision trip, which would do a much better job of exposing and teaching young people about missions without hurting overseas ministries.

So....we are practicing what we preach!  We're hoping this summer to host our very first internship team!  It's still in its formative stages, but we are very excited about this!

I am posting here the information that we sent our supporting churches.  I am not expecting my average reader to sit down and read through this, but I am posting it because I want it to be a resource for missions committees and overseas workers who might be interested in doing the same thing.  

Feel free to ask me questions!  Let's get this idea going!

2015 Tanzania Missions Internship Team
Hosted by:  Gil and Amy Medina, ReachGlobal

Summary:  We are inviting each of our supporting churches to send one person or one couple (with no kids) to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for three weeks in June/July.  These team members must already have a significant interest in missions.  The purpose of this trip will be to teach this team about different types of overseas ministries and missions philosophy.  Team members will be active learners and participators, but will not be serving in any specific capacity.  In response, team members will be expected to make a major presentation to their respective missions committees on what they learned, and a smaller presentation to the entire congregation about our ministry in Tanzania.

Philosophy behind this trip:
We are big fans of short-term missions.  We ourselves participated in many such trips in our younger days, and they were hugely influential in our lives and our decision to become career missionaries.  We also have hosted a number of short-term teams in our 11 years in Tanzania and all have been a big encouragement and help to our ministry. 

This year, and possibly in future years, we would like to try something different.  We have found that for those young people who are really interested in missions, short-term trips often don’t really give them a picture of what missions really looks like.  Team members engage in activities that aren’t the kind of things “real” missionaries do, and sometimes their activities actually cause harm to local ministry by taking jobs away from nationals or causing unnecessary dependence on the West. Churches in the West often justify these types of trips by pointing to the benefits they bring to the team members themselves.  They look to “missions exposure” as the main reason they want to send their young people overseas.

We absolutely believe in the benefits of missions exposure.  So we decided to construct a new type of team that will give more than the typical kind of exposure team members get from short-term teams.  Instead of a service trip, we want this to look more like an internship.  We are designing a trip that will expose interns to a variety of different kinds of ministries, in different venues and reaching different people groups in our diverse city and country.  We want interns to get “up close and personal” with these ministries, not only observing but actively engaging—asking questions, taking notes, and discussing their implications throughout the entire trip.

Why are we doing this?
1.       Because we love the opportunity to help raise up the next generation of missionaries
2.       Because we want to serve the churches who serve us by helping to mentor and nurture their upcoming missionaries
3.       Because we get something out of it too!  In hosting this trip, we hope to continue to make better and stronger connections with our supporting churches.  We will ask each intern, when they return, to do a (five-minute) presentation to their congregation about us and our ministry in Tanzania.  We hope that interns will also gain a passion for our ministry and will help to advocate prayer for us as well.

Now…onto the details!
Approximate dates of Tanzania Missions Internship program:  June 15 to July 5, 2015
Each of our supporting churches are invited to send either one person or one couple (no kids) to join this team.  The number of people sent from each church can be possibly negotiable depending on how many other churches want to send interns. 

What missions committees should require of interns:
·         At least 18 years old and have graduated from high school by the time of the trip
·         Demonstrating a growing, thriving relationship with Jesus Christ
·         Already showing a significant interest in missions as a career
·         Mature and responsible
·         Involved in church ministry
·         Able and willing to travel alone internationally (This may not be necessary as we will try to bring team members together for travel, but traveling alone might be the most practical choice.)

What we will require of interns before the trip:
·         Read two books between March and June:  Cross-Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer and Discipling Nations by Darrow Miller.  We will keep interns accountable through a Facebook discussion group. 
·         Procure a passport
·         Receive travel vaccinations

What we will require of interns during the trip:
·         Be active learners and participators
·         Take a notebook with them wherever they go, asking questions and taking notes
·         Have a good attitude about new situations that might be uncomfortable
·         Conform to cultural modesty standards

Examples of ministries interns will be exposed to:
·         Our ministry to local pastors, Reach Tanzania
·         Haven of Peace Academy, MK international school
·         Community Development Ministry to impoverished neighborhoods
·         Ministry to train disabled individuals in marketable skills
·         Young Life in Africa
·         Bible translation efforts in Tanzania
·         Orphanage Ministry [and a number of other ministries that cannot be shared publically]
Interns will also interview many missionaries and nationals, travel to a few sites that teach about the history of Tanzania, and learn about missions philosophy and strategy. 

What we will require of interns after the trip:
·         To their missions committee:  A formal presentation of some kind, such as a Power-point presentation or a video, highlighting what they learned on this trip.  The missions committee could also give interns the option of writing a formal paper instead (though future missionaries need to get used to making presentations!).
·         To their congregation:  A five-minute presentation highlighting our ministry

Interns will either stay with us or in the dorm rooms at our ministry training center (two miles from our house).  Everyone will have a mattress, though not necessarily a bed! 

Cost per person:
·         Air ticket:  approximately $1800-$2000
·         Passport
·         Tanzanian visa:  $100
·         Living/travel expenses:  approximately $500
·         Travel vaccinations:  Cost varies.  Only yellow fever is required, and we do not anticipate interns needing additional vaccinations.  Recommended that interns bring malaria prophylaxis.
·         Safari trip:  approximately $150
·         Interns need to have medical insurance that will cover them internationally

If a church decides to send an intern, we ask that the missions committee of that church officially interview, support, send, and follow-up with this person.  The missions committee does not need to fully financially support this person, but should give them their official backing and encouragement to raise the rest of the money from the congregation.  All support money should go through the church and not directly to the individual. 

We recommend that each intern pay for their safari trip out of their own funds.  They will also want to bring some spending money, though all meals and activities will be covered through living expenses.

We hope you will prayerfully consider this opportunity!  We would love to serve one of your young people in this way.  Please be in contact with us regarding any comments or questions.

Together for the gospel,

Gil and Amy Medina
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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