Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mission Team to Thailand 2014

This January fourteen people from East Taieri Church travelled to Thailand to join with two families we support in Chiang Mai.  It has been a full two weeks.  One of my highlights was preaching (with the help of some wonderful interpreters) in two church services and a young people's camp.  The team also did fantastic work building relationships with Thai people and people from the Karen hilltribe group.  We also tackled a number of physical tasks from electrical work (led by a capable electrician on our team) and painting, landscaping, and building raised vegetable gardens for a "hospice/home" for people living with HIV.  Most of this work was carried out working alongside (usually directed) by local people.

Our model of global mission is one of partnership - doing things with the local Christians and not doing things for people.  Clearly we had something to contribute, but we also had much to learn about Thailand, about how God is working in another culture, and about ourselves.  Our prayer is that God will continue to build these partnerships as well and help us to grow through this experience.

The objectives of our time were:
  1. Giving people a taste of cross cultural mission to get them enthused and help raise up the next generation of missionaries, and people who will commit to praying and supporting missionaries.
  2. Spiritual growth of those who go – especially teenagers.
  3. Encouragement and support of missionaries we visit (including completing some practical project while we are there).  This includes the goal of not getting “in the way” of missionaries while we are there.
  4. Build our partnership with the San Patong Community Church.
  5. Raising the profile of global mission in East Taieri Church.
 We have made good progress on all of these.
I'm not sure I would lead as big a team next time.  Fourteen people made transport difficult.  But one of my overall highlights was the way our team worked together using our gifts and strengths for the benefit of the team.  Working together with missionaries and with Thai people in a similar way was also a highlight.  These very same things were also a challenge when differences or tensions emerged, but we worked through them pretty well.  Building strong teams and the different leadership styles I need to use at different times is one of my on going reflection and learning points from this trip.

We worked hard in Thailand, but we will also need to put in some work, thought and prayer, back in NZ if we are going to cement these experiences and grow as people through them.