By Howard Fong
For the past eight years, I have had the privilege of leading short-term mission teams to visit the same cities in Southeast Asia once or twice year. I will not bore you with a “ministry report”. Instead, please allow me to share with you a few God sightings and lessons learned.
- Building trusting relationships
I think in many cultures, but especially in the Asian culture, it takes time to build up a trusting relationship. There is a tendency for STM teams to go to a new place every year because the needs around the world are so great. However, I believe it is much more effective to commit to a single region or a city for a longer period.
I remember trying to organize a camp for Christian professionals in 2009 and inviting several church leaders in the target city for a planning session. Some did show up with questions and suggestions, but there was no commitment to promote the event at their respective churches, much less a willingness to co-sponsor the camp. It was obvious that they did not trust me, and for very understandable reasons. But after a few years of sending a team to the same city around the same time every year, the leaders realized we truly cared for them and were committed to them. From that point on, we have had their full appreciation and cooperation.