This article begins with a discussion of Friesen's time in Kenya and some of the interactions he witnessed between the Massai people and the Canadian students who were there in a student exchange program for discipleship training. Friesen noted that "some team members were discouraged that they had not `accomplished' more," (449) which he finds to be a common emotion among "short-termers." He then found out, seven years later, that the church the short-termers helped to plant had a congregation of over 300 members! Intrigued by this phenomenon, Friesen decided to do his doctoral work about proving, statistically, the long-term impact of short-term missions. The rest of the article discusses his research methodology and summarizes his main research results.
Among his findings, I found the most fascinating to be the one that among short-term missions participants, there tends to be a decline in their church relationship after their experience and female participants tend to experience greater spiritual growth. Based on my experiences with short term work and witness trips, I have found both of these to be true. Friesen also found that pre-field discipleship leads to a higher score of overall change. I definitely agree with him concerning this matter, and I applaud many of the outlets for sending Nazarene short-termers in providing an opportunity to do this before one leaves on a cross-cultural ministerial experience. Throughout the article, the author discusses other findings and then concludes with ways that churches and missions organizations can be helpful in facilitating positive growth-promoting work and witness experiences.
Among his suggestions, I found that his tip that "we must do more to debrief and follow up with short-term mission participants" to be very applicable to my life and the lives of other short-termers I know. I really feel that, in my major short-term experience to Africa this past summer that there was an inadequate amount of debriefing that took place upon return. Without knowledge of the different ways that I could do this, I found the adjustment from the plane to my summer job as a Girl Scout camp counselor to a bit rocky. I am glad, however, that authors, like this one, are trying to raise awareness of the necessity of debriefing with short-term work and witness experiences because I do feel that it is a major issue that is not addressed as often as it should be.
Overall, the author does a good job of highlighting both the positive and negative aspect of short-term missions, and reveals some good information that all shorttermers should be aware of. His research seemed very valid, and by reading his article, I feel inspired to further investigate the importance of short-term mission work.
Other articles in this publication include:
Hornell, J. Scott. "Doing Theology: An International Risk."
Borges, James. "A Muslim Theology of Jesus' Virgin Birth and His Death."
Mofitt, Robert. "Transformation: Dream or Reality?"