Making a long-term impact through short-term missions

The Student Missionary Union hopes to cultivate worship and make an eternal impact through its short-term mission trips.


Katie Juranek

A class holds a banner that professor Murray Decker (pictured left) uses to teach the short term team leaders about the 10/40 window and how their trip is a larger picture of how God is working. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

Luke Cheng and Luke Cheng

A class holds a banner that professor Murray Decker (pictured left) uses to teach the short term team leaders about the 10/40 window and how their trip is a larger picture of how God is working. | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

This summer, students will travel to Australia, Japan, Mongolia, Indonesia, Uganda, Thailand and Sri Lanka with a zealous passion to bring glory to God. Some students will venture into a nomadic journey to spread the gospel, while others will visit schools, orphanages and churches to be servants of Christ. Since 1922, Biola University’s Student Missionary Union has continued to send students to the nations for the sake of the gospel.

Fulfilling Great Commission

As stated on SMU’s website, “The Short-Term Missions Department seeks to magnify God’s glory among the nations by coming alongside long-term missionaries to participate in short-term projects.”

For decades now, students from different majors have remained faithful to the Great Commission at Biola, and believe that they can make an impact on the nations through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

“The reason you go to the nations is because it is in the Bible [the Great Commission],” says Lucy Harig, team development coordinator and sophomore intercultural studies major.

Ultimately, it is for the purposes of glorifying God, bringing the worship of Jesus Christ to places where it is not, Harig said.

“The main mission should be the worship of God,” said Parker Gross, Team Mongolia co-leader and junior sociology major.

Goal is to cultivate worship

There are several components to the goal of missions, but worship is the objective.

“Missions is motivated by the stretching of faith, learning, and having a heart for others, but sustained by a zealous pursuit of the worship of God,” said Team Mongolia co-leader and senior biblical studies major Jeremy Driggs.

Jason Lee, Team Indonesia co-leader and junior journalism student, shared that there are unreached people who do not know what it means to worship in spirit and truth, and God desires to bring them to it.

“The ultimate goal for the church is not missions: The ultimate goal of the church is worship,” Lee said.

Students hope to cultivate worship in the world by partnering with long-term missionaries.

Short-term missions can have long-term impact

“One of the requirements [for team leaders] is to commit to a missionary organization to have a long-term impact,” Gross said.

Cody Maher, Team Uganda co-leader and senior film major, says short-term missions “serves to hopefully help those who are there long-term. … Students can use their abilities and resources to bless those in other countries.”

Although students are in these countries for only two to six weeks, their dedication to serving rejuvenates long-term missionaries and their spirits, making a worthwhile and necessary contribution for the kingdom of God.

“Short-term missions is to encourage the missionaries and ultimately glorify God at the same time,” said Jonathan Bang, Team Japan co-leader and sophomore intercultural studies major. “We are there to do whatever they ask from us and give them support.”

Students do not anticipate bringing an entire nation to God, but they believe that they can make an eternal impact by serving, loving and reigniting passion in long-term missionaries.

“It is all about lasting relationships and friendships that you make. Those last a lifetime and you can always connect with them or even go back. This was shown through the example of Paul and his letters,” Lee said.

Equipping nations through discipleship

Team leaders hope to disciple Christian leaders in the nations to equip them to disciple others on a long-term basis.

“They know the culture and the language better than we do, we are just there to support and encourage them,” Bang said.

Ultimately, students know that they cannot do anything on their own and they need to depend on God.

“The biggest impact is prayer, sowing seeds of prayer in the land. Sometimes we go into missions thinking we can do this and that, but prayer is most important,” Lee said.

From the beginning to the end, team leaders will fervently pray that hearts and lives will be changed.

Team leaders stressed that all believers are called to be mission-minded whether it is in the neighborhoods or the nations.

“It says in the Bible that we are all commissioned. … We are all called to proclaim the gospel,” Bang said.

“I don’t think everyone needs to go [to the nations], but I think everyone can play some role in it,” Harig said. “When you earnestly seek God’s will, you cannot ignore that God cares for the broken. He calls all believers to partner with him in his redemptive story.”

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