At times, short-term mission trips can leave us wondering “did I really make a difference?” Many of us have seen the negative effects of short-term missions and want to be sure that our time invested makes an impact in some way. At Students International, we believe that our short-term outreach participants play a key role in planting seeds of the gospel in the lives and hearts of our community members.
Stories like the one we’re sharing today are the ones that make it clear to us that outreach participants have the opportunity to make a difference– even if they don’t see the results while they’re on their trip.
Over the past eight years, countless participants have spent time with Josué Gaitán Suárez at the boys club in Nicaragua. Josué is 19 years old and has been part of our boys club since the very beginning. We have had different site leaders ministering to Josué and dozens of outreach participants at the site over the past eight years. Last year Josué shared with our site leaders Joseph and Nestor that he had dreams of becoming a professional referee.
Rather than letting the mention of that dream pass by, Joseph and Nestor helped make a connection with a referee training school. Josué has been attending the classes and participating in training sessions. The training sessions begin at 5:45 AM in a town 30 minutes away by bus. He still comes by the boys club site to help out on Tuesdays, he practices and helps the younger boys at the site. It is also a chance for our site leaders to continue to pour into Josué and his walk with Christ.
Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 3:6-8 remind us of the process of planting and watering seeds. “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.”
If you ever come to a point in life where you begin to wonder if your impact is making a difference– our prayer is that you remember the importance of planting and watering seeds. By partnering short-term teams with long-term missionaries on the missions field, we have seen countless seeds planted and watered over the years… And we know that our ministry would look wildly different if it weren’t for the seeds that have been planted and watered by those who’ve come before!