More Than a Tagline

By Liz Powers, Partnership Coordinator

‘Where short term missions collide with long term community development.’

This statement represents a commitment to a new kind of short term mission experience, a commitment to not only become conscious of the potential to harm- but also to invest in opportunities to empower, dignify and serve alongside the communities we partner with at Next Step Ministries. We believe the Lord is using this movement to unify and empower communities across the globe and we are delighted to be a part of it. In Lorain County, we were privileged to witness the Lord work in big ways through this commitment over the past couple of months.

During the course of our summer program here in Ohio, over 400 volunteers from 15 different states were able to take part in God’s story for Lorain County. For a moment though, I would like to zoom in on one particular group of volunteers. This group was unique in that they didn’t travel far at all for their mission trip experience. In fact, this group from Avon Lake Presbyterian Church didn’t have to even walk out their front door to engage with the community of Lorain County- as it’s the community they call home. As I gathered with my friends from Avon Lake to participate in this local mission trip, I was hit smack in the head with the beauty of the movement unfolding in front of me: short term missions were indeed colliding with long term community development.

During my experience serving alongside this amazing group of about 35 local believers on mission to serve their friends and neighbors, I was reminded of the history in our partnership with Lorain County. I was reminded of the difficulty found in inspiring local mission workers that prompted Lorain County youth pastor, Beau Dansizen, to reach out to Next Step in the first place. I was reminded of his determination to mobilize visiting youth groups to serve in his community. And then, I was reminded of the countless stories I have heard over the years from visiting volunteers who became so motivated by their experiences in Lorain County, they went on to activate change in their home communities.

As I stood among this incredible group of local believers now living missionally in their home town of Lorain County, I was struck at the vivid representation of the movement we have been so convicted to operate under. At this display of short term missions colliding with long term community development, I was able to see the benefit of communities unifying to mutually inspire one another. Neither side assumed the role of either giver or receiver, but instead they each assumed both roles. While countless visitors left Lorain County motivated to serve at home in countless creative ways, local believers were being filled with a zeal to sustain both the physical and spiritual work started by their visiting counterparts. Throughout the course of the summer we were awed as both parties continued stepping outside of their comfort zone to serve and encourage one another to represent Jesus Christ, creating sustainable impacts not only here in Lorain County, but in each community  represented by our 400 visitors. We are excited to see how the Lord continues to use this movement to further his Kingdom!

Next Step Ministries