Relationships for the Long-Term

 

“Do you speak Spanish?” I asked.

“Well… I offend less people now” he laughed.

Rick Myers is a Missions Door Missionary Advocate and Short-Term Teams Coordinator. Today, he leads trips to Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. While he began his career as a salesman, Rick left the corporate world after 27 years to follow God’s calling on his life.

What do sales and mission work have in common? This may sound like the set up to a cheesy joke, but it’s far from it. The answer? Relationships, relationships, relationships.

Rick Myers learned during his sales career that both maintaining and gaining relationships was key. Now, as a Short-term Mission Trip Coordinator, he sees that relationship also plays the biggest role in the creation and success of short-term mission work.

In sales, and appropriately, in farming, you reap what you sow. As the client-salesperson relationship grows, so does the business relationship and how each one profits off of the other. The more time and energy a salesperson is willing to put into a customer relationship, the more successful the transaction may be.

In developing relationships with missionaries, Rick seeks to better understand their specific goals and needs. In developing relationships with churches, Rick has to build trust and keep communication open. Then, Rick must continuously foster the relationship between the church and the missionary. This too, requires upkeep.

Rick’s goal is to continually remind North American churches of the missionaries and their needs. But this is not just a monetary goal. Instead Rick says, “I can’t be a friend to everyone.” He says the ministry needs more people to build relationships with and invest time in different groups of people. So, he takes many groups on short-term trips and does his best to cultivate friendships between church members, missionaries, and local people alike.

However, it is not enough to go on a mission trip once every five years and hope the relationship remains fruitful. Rick puts it this way: “You can’t just assume that relationships are good because they always have been. My wife and I have been married for 38 years, and we still have to work at preserving our relationship.”

Rick coordinates follow-up meetings with each of his teams, and often, they video chat with the missionaries with whom they served. Many times, people return from the mission field “on fire”, with new passion for their faith; however, over time, this passion fades as people situate themselves back in their busy lives. These follow-up meetings help remind teams and missionaries what God did in their time together and help each maintain these mission relationships.

On the trip itself, Rick says his favorite part of the job is seeing church members’ “ah-ha!” moments. Many team members sign up for these short-term trips with their own agenda, their own goals, and their own version of Jesus they’d like to share. After entering another culture, they quickly realize that their own agenda may not meet the needs of the community and their version of Jesus is drastically different from those who truly depend on Him to meet their needs every single day.

This is when, Rick says, people really start to listen—when their hearts break and they begin to look to others’ needs above their own. This is when real, genuine relationships are born.

When short-term trips turn into long-term relationships of service, Rick has accomplished his goal.

 

Check out more short-term mission opportunities HERE!