Hi, this is Bernie Dake. Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Knowing all that's mine, knowing all you have required is my surrender. No gift of mine would be enough to repay this act of love. So Father, let this faithful heart speak ever for me. I have not much to give You, Lord, for that great love which made You mine. I have not much to give You, Lord, but all I have is Yours alone.
I have not much to give You. Welcome back to Words of Life. I'm Bernie Dake, and today we are joined by Lieutenant Colonel Carol Seiler. Welcome back. Thank you. And who are you?
Cheryl Gillum. That's who I am. Amen. We're nearing the end of our seven-week series on missions. If you've missed any episodes, be sure to subscribe to Words of Life on your favorite podcast store or visit salvationarmysoundcast.org. In this episode, Carol was joined by Jovanni Smith, or as I affectionately call her, JoJo, to discuss short-term missions. And at that time in the conversation, Jovanni was our Young Adult and Missions Deployment Coordinator for the Salvation Army Southern Territory. And she had great insight into the benefits and possible pitfalls of short-term missions.
That's right. Jovanni worked for several years organizing short-term mission trips for our young adults in the USA and abroad. And in addition to coordinating the trips, she was involved in training the young adults and then debriefing them when they returned. Well, today we're here with Jovanni Smith, and I'm going to ask her to introduce herself and tell us a little bit about what she does. Woo hoo. Well, hello, everyone. My name is Jovanni Smith.
A lot of people know me as JoJo. I currently work in the youth department as the Territory Young Adult and Mission Deployment Coordinator. I just tell people I just love young adults, love advocating for them, and also do mission trips and provide opportunities for young adults and college students to go on mission trips.
That's a little nutshell of what I do with the long title. Tell us a little bit about some of the mission trips that you have coordinated. Yeah, so we have our program Salvationist Service Corps. That happens every year during the summer and sometimes in the spring and winter for our one-week trips. So we send students, young adults, college students, age 18 to 25, all over overseas or in states.
So we have sent them far and wide. A little bit over to Fiji, as close to sending them to Mississippi, and they get a chance to work with Salvation Army and other officers and partner up with the ministries there. For your summer ministries, how many weeks are those?
So for the summer, those are six weeks. So we usually divide our teams. We usually have between four to five teams. And they are made up between, our biggest one is probably seven.
Our less team would be about four or five. Four or five members on the team? Yeah. And do they have any kind of training before they go?
Yes. So each applicant, once they are chosen, they go through a leadership orientation if they are chosen as a leader. And that goes through what leadership looks like, conflict, team management, how to handle finances. We also have the rest of the members that come for team orientation. We get into spiritual formation.
What does it look like to spend time and listen to God in the aspect of missions? And of course, you're dealing with 18 to 25 year olds, a lot of different personalities. So of course, conflict come and go. There's a lot of stress.
There's a lot of tension. So understanding cultural awareness, understanding team dynamics, conflict, how to handle that, how to handle stress, how to handle emergencies, how to not cuss your team member out because you're having a bad day, but learning how to communicate effectively. What are some of the benefits that you see for those who are participating in a mission team?
So let me start with the short term one and I'll do the long term. For our short term mission trips, I think the benefit is that we have a long lasting relationship from our locations. Usually the short term mission trips are places that we've gone to every single year.
There is a partnership with the Salvation Army. There is a connection with the local leaders in the location that we go to. For our students that come through a one week mission trip, they are getting just a taste of what it looks like to serve, what it looks like to be intentional. They get an idea of thriving and kind of building team dynamic. Now our summer long term mission trips, I say the benefit of that is really shaping who they are, shaping who they are not only within themselves, what they want for themselves, but also who they are in Christ. There is a deeper connection to the Lord.
There's a deeper connection to one another. I could even talk about my own personal experience. Some of my experiences with SSC, I've had very life changing experiences. I feel like I became a better leader through SSC.
I became very aware of how I communicate, how I share my thoughts. You have a lot of people that served under SSC that discovered their calling, that's one, who have gone to be Salvation Army officers. There are some that have specifically went to a location and that connected to their career. So there are some people who after SSC decided to be social workers, they decided to be teachers, they decided to go into missions. One of my team members, my second year of Salvation Service Corps, she decided to move to New Zealand right after SSC. She felt like the Lord really affirmed her to serve overseas and for a long term.
I think she just moved back to the States, but she has been there since 2013-2014. It's amazing. I think it's beautiful because I think SSC allows people to kind of dream big and see where they want to be in life. Where do they want to go? Where is God taking them?
Seeing that makes my heart happy and I know that they are walking in the plan that God has for them. One of the concerns that people have voiced about short term missions is that they can do more harm than good at times. Perhaps it's the way that the team or the individual carries out their responsibilities on the mission team or maybe it's just the fact that we are in and out so quickly. What do you see as possibly some of the harm that a short term mission could cause? Some of the things I think about is one, we could get into a savior mentality where we go to the place and be like, here we are, we're here for a week, tell us what to do, we got it for you and we're out. The second thing I would say would cause harm, because it's a short term mission, we immediately become disconnected from the beginning. We know that we're coming in on a Sunday and we're going to be out on a Friday, there's no need for us to connect with people, there's no need for us to even put energy into it.
It's my spring break, I needed a sign off for my internship, I wanted to go somewhere hot. I think that could be a harm when we are immediately disconnected from the community that we are serving. I think a third harm could be we want an Instagram or social media reality, we want to show people what they want to see.
So taking pictures and being in front of a beautiful palm tree or just putting your location like, look, I'm serving in California or I'm serving the Caribbean. But we take that and we try to create this narrative that we want people to see. And I think sometimes we could do more harm to the people around us, we could treat a short term mission trip as a vacation.
Have you ever heard the term vacationaries? It is a, or voluntourism, that's another danger that people, not only that we go with that attitude, but that people will perceive that attitude. So how do we avoid causing harm? Yeah, so the first one is, I would say we need to pick a location, whether it's at home or overseas, that we want to do life, we want to walk alongside with, that we want to stay committed to. I think that's what we need to do, we need to literally be connected to the hip, to the people we are walking alongside with in missions. Number two, there needs to be a long lasting communication that is long lasting. People should not be hearing from us when it's time for us to come over for mission trips.
We should not just be calling them like, hey, it's March, we want to come in April or May. We should always be staying in communication with those who we work with. We want to give updates like, hey, how's everything going? How can we support? How can we pray? We have some youth events coming up.
Next year in youth council, what can we start doing to uplift you all? That's how short term mission trips continue to be long lasting. We can't continue to look at it from the lens of vacation. So another criticism that we hear from time to time is that the money that is spent on a short term mission might be better spent if we just gave it directly to the mission. For instance, it might cost four to five thousand dollars per person to send a team of ten. So that money, could that money be better used if we just donated it directly to the place that we would be going?
Yeah. I mean, it could. There are so many ways that we could we could look at this.
It could. But I really feel like you're also choosing to invest in those who choose to go on these trips to choose to go on mission trips. If I if, you know, for example, for me, I started off going to SSC and now I'm the territorial coordinator who is investing in other young adults and college students. I'm a lifelong salvationist.
I've been in my position for almost six years. And that's because my division at the time invested in me. They believed in me. They they prayed and they walked me through so many seasons in my life.
And so sometimes just thinking about that, sometimes it's just like you are choosing to invest in the young adult or that specific college student who is choosing to trust God in their next steps. Giovanni, it's been exciting to hear all about what you've been doing. And there may be people who have been interested in learning more about you or following what you're up to.
Yeah. If you want to do that. Listen, I have my own podcast. It's called A Cup of Joe podcast.
You can find me on iTunes and Spotify. My podcast, I pretty much talk about anything and everything and share the grandiose of who I am. The Salvation Army's mission, doing the most good means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.
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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-18 14:42:40 / 2023-09-18 14:47:58 / 5