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FEATURE

OPC Short-Term Missions are Making a Comeback in 2022

Trish Dugggan

No doubt you’ve noticed the near-depleted list of short-term mission opportunities the past two years due to COVID restrictions. But praise the Lord, things seem to be changing and we’re encouraged! According to the travel site, Kayak, as of November 24, 2021, the borders of five countries are now open, with no restrictions. 166 countries’ borders are open, with limited restrictions, and only 53 countries’ borders remain closed.

Maybe you have been waiting in the wings for restrictions to lift in order to serve in an international short-term missions’ capacity. This may be just the time for you to jump into—or back into—short-term missions service. Missionaries, serving near and far, have spent much of these past two years without the encouragement and blessing of regular visitors—vital for their health and the success of the mission.

Referenced Terms and Length of Service

Before we get too far, we want to familiarize you with the terms we use for the categories of short-term mission opportunities.

  • "Summer": occurs during the U.S. summer season, ranging from 1 week to 3 months.
  • "Year-Round": occurs during an unspecified time of year, ranging from 1 week to 3 months.
  • "Missionary Associates": essentially longer, short-term missionaries. Their service runs for 1 to 3 years. It’s quite a commitment, but many find it extremely rewarding and helpful for consistency within the mission. MAs apply, through the OPC Foreign Missions' office and are given the requirements, objectives and a list of duties required to fulfill their commitment, as well as help with creating a financial plan in order to figure out how much funding they will need to raise.

So, what OPC Short-Term mission fields are open as of today? We’ll break it down for you, to help you, as you consider serving:

The Opportunities

CZECH REPUBLIC (border is open, with some restrictions) Summer, 2022:

The Youth Committee of the Presbytery of Southern California plans to send a team of young people to serve alongside Jerry and Marilyn Farnik in the Czech Republic for three weeks in the summer of 2022! "Team Praha" is looking for mature young people (aged 16 to early 30s)–willing to serve, eager to teach Vacation Bible School, and able to share their faith with Czech teens and young adults.

Kathleen Winslow, former missionary associate, and coordinator of Team Praha had an opportunity to talk to an English Camp visitor shortly after English Camp 2017. She shared, "Jan and I talked one evening at camp, and he expressed surprise at the team’s willingness to share personal stories publicly as they gave testimony to God’s grace in their lives. I explained that such details would indeed be kept private in American culture, too, but that we so wanted our Czech friends to understand that just as our struggles are the same as theirs, the same hope we’ve found in Christ Jesus is also available to them. Christianity is not an American thing; God calls all people everywhere to repent and be saved. Jan showed some interest in the things of God while at English Camp; he attended each of Pastor Roger Wagner’s evening messages, and he brought his wife to the worship service in Modřany (a suburb of Prague) on the Sunday after camp."

Would you consider taking three weeks in the summer to serve alongside long-time missionaries, the Farniks, to run a Vacation Bible School, share your faith with Czech teenagers, all while taking in the beautiful sites of the Czech Republic? Contact Kathleen Winslow for more information: kywinslow@gmail.com.

UKRAINE (border is open, with some restrictions) Summer, 2022

This opportunity may pique your interest, if you believe you feel a call to possible long-term mission work. Are you desiring an intense cross-cultural missions internship that will personally mentor you through your calling, identity in Christ, and role in God’s world mission? Would you like to gain hands-on experience with mercy ministry, university student ministry, and children’s ministry, in a safe church planting community? Then the Leopolis Green Internship, offered by the L’viv Church Planting Team in beautiful L’viv, Ukraine, may be right for you! Many young people feel they may be called to cross-cultural missions but need a place to test their gifts and gain some valuable training and experience with personal oversight. Others know they need more experience before launching into a longer-term commitment in cross-cultural missions abroad or at home.

This program provides a safe community where interns are mentored, trained, and taught about the workings of cross-cultural missions, with the goal in mind that this will affect their understanding, not only of missions and of themselves, but also of their place in the kingdom of God.

Ukraine is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea and in many regards is the dividing point between the east and the west. L’viv is the major city for Western Ukraine and contains a metro population of 1.5 million people. It is often viewed as the vanguard of Ethnic Ukrainian Identity as well as “more European” by other Ukrainians. It is located just north of the Carpathian Mountains and is a close train ride from Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Ukrainian is the primary language of L’viv and of Western Ukraine. In the summertime, the city comes alive with outdoor cafes and tourists while the multiple parks and nearby mountains become a favorite spot, especially among university students.

Find out more by going to the MTW website: MTW.org or contact Doug Shepherd, Director of Leopolis Green, at free2travel98@yahoo.com

UGANDA (border is open, with some restrictions) Year-Round, Summer, 2022 & MA

Sitting on the eastern side of Africa, Uganda is known for its natural landscape, unique wildlife and diverse religious and cultural beliefs. The OPC has had a mission presence there since 1995, with slow but steady fruit and growth in Mbale and Karamoja. According to the OPUM site, "the members of the Mbale station work with the indigenous Presbyterian Church in Uganda for the purpose of facilitating their formation as a mature, grace-empowered, self-sufficient body. The station also operates Knox School of Theology, a pastoral training institution for African students from Uganda and Kenya. Works of mercy are also in operation in Mbale."

"There is no indigenous reformed church in Karamoja. The members serving on the Karamoja station labor in the areas of evangelism, church planting, leadership training, village Bible instruction, literature production, literacy training, medical care through the work of Akisyon a Yesu Presbyterian Clinic, community health instruction, and other works of mercy such as the operation of a farm."

Many opportunities are available for those with a desire to serve the Lord and a willingness to give up some creature comforts. It's not for everyone, but it could be for you!

Uganda Year-Round (no specified dates) service: Just a few examples of service might be: overseeing the farm project, participating in facility maintenance, or participating in the care and teaching of missionary children. Go to the OPUM website to apply.

Also in Uganda Year-Round: Serve with teachers at Karamoja Education Outreach (KEO). Many children in Uganda long for school--for consistency, friendship, and education--which is often not available to them for a variety of reasons. Children are amazingly quick to absorb, so they are taught reading and writing, self-discipline, and how to biblically love one another. KEO was established with the prayerful hope that creating these healthy habits early in the lives of these children would improve their future education and mitigate cultural hardships for years to come. Contact Angela Voskuil at voskuila30@gmail.com for more information.

Finally, Uganda Missionary Associates, serving for terms ranging 3 months to 1 year, have the opportunity of:

URUGUAY (border is open, with some restrictions)

The OP Uruguay Mission in Montevideo, Uruguay, is seeking Missionary Associates to assist Missionary Evangelist Mark Richline with outreach, evangelism, and music in the worship service. Applicants should have a "limited working proficiency" in Spanish. Contact Douglas Clawson: douglas.clawson@opc.org.

Closer to Home—Domestic STM

Maybe you don’t see yourself traveling internationally but are interested in spending some time serving the Lord outside of your home church. The Boardwalk Chapel has openings for staff, and the OPC STM office is pursuing some other opportunities for someone like you. There is a program called, "Churches Helping Churches", which pairs willing volunteers with churches who have needs, either in maintenance projects, VBS or other outreach efforts. Then there is OPC Disaster Response—a different, but similarly fulfilling option of short-term missions.

The Boardwalk Chapel

Summer staff opportunities are broken down into these four categories:

  • Evangelism Team: Staff specifically trained in evangelism and apologetics lead teams in Gospel conversations on the boardwalk.
  • Domestics Team: Staff with service-oriented gifts cook, clean, and serve the home.
  • Music Team: Staff with musical gifts perform Gospel-centered songs during nightly programs.
  • Drama Team: Staff with acting/theatre gifts perform Gospel-centered skits during nightly programs.

If one of these sounds like you, please e-mail Anastasia Ferguson, BWC Volunteer Coordinator, for more information! Small groups and individuals are invited to come for a week in the summer. All are welcome to join for any amount of time, whether it be a week, month, or the whole summer!

Churches Helping Churches

There are times it's tough to get projects completed at church. Limited volunteer resources often dictate what projects get done and when. This is where OPC Short-Term-Missions can help! We can help you get the word out about a need in your church, such as a need for volunteers for your Vacation Bible School, church maintenance project, or even an outreach in the neighborhood. If you are a church in need of help, fill out this form, so we can get the word out! If you desire to serve a church in this way, go to our website and fill out this form.

OPC Disaster Response

Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and COVID-19. They may not be the type of short-term service you were initially thinking about, but those who have served by way of home restoration say that serving those who have suffered loss at the hands of a disaster is a tremendous blessing. Glenn Moots, homeowner and member of Christ Covenant OPC in Midland, MI, received help from OPC Disaster Response, "If all the OPC did was to help us to dry the house out, they would’ve been doing what other organizations were doing," Glenn said. "But the difference was that the OPC said that they were able to help us rebuild, and a lot of organizations do not do that."

Right now, it's quiet on the OPC disaster front, but in 2017 three major disasters struck near OPC churches—all within three weeks! Hurricane season (June-November) is typically the busiest time. Register to let us know that you’re interested in this kind of service. You will determine when and where you serve, as your schedule allows.

Lord Willing, We’ll Be Adding More

Be sure to check the OPC STM website often! We are working hard to broaden the choices of service, maybe adding brand new fields. Short-term mission opportunities are returning, slowly but surely. How do you plan to serve?

Not Sure What Short-Term Field is Right for You?

Fill out the OPC STM Volunteer Interest Form and let us help you find just the right missions’ fit for you. Questions: opcshorttermmissions@opc.org.

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