From the Philippines to Zambia and Hungary to locations right across America’s Midwest, more Salvation Army short-term mission opportunities are available than ever. It could be just what you’ve been seeking to expand your worldview, explore a new culture, deepen your faith and make a difference. Interested? Read on!
Summer Mission Teams (SMT)
Developed as a leadership training and service program for young adults (18-28), SMTs provide a life-enriching summer for those who are serious about their faith and passionate about sharing the gospel.
Whether conducting a vacation Bible school in Haiti, trekking through the mud to visit a remote village in Papua New Guinea, feeding underprivileged children lunch at a park in Milwaukee or presenting the Bible through drama at camp, SMT members encourage and assist fellow Salvationists in ministry. It’s life changing for the people they serve and themselves.
“I was out to change the world,” said Captain Erin Eddy of her SMT experience to Bolivia in 2004. “I went with a ‘fire in my bones’ to make their lives better, and in the end it was my life that was changed…The Bolivians taught me what Jesus and His love really means. Those moments and lessons have remained with me over the past 13 years and have changed my entire life.”
Many team members find direction, whether a course of study at college, a new position of service at their corps or even their calling. In fact, more than one third of all SMT members have committed their lives to fulltime service, most with The Salvation Army, since 2001.
Samantha Barnes reflected on how her 2015 SMT experience at the Detroit Harbor Light catapulted her faith into action. “Until this point I’d never really prayed with someone who needed it. I was always the one being prayed for,” she said. “Being on the other side, giving advice, asking questions and praying…it was outside of my comfort zone, but I was able to grow spiritually.”
Samantha now works as youth development coordinator in the Good Soil Initiative program at the Joliet, Ill., Corps. “I’ve always been a part of The Salvation Army, but SMT really gave me a clear idea of the path I wanted to take,” she said.
“SMT was an opportunity to see the strength and vibrancy of the international Salvation Army,” said Captain Valerie Carr, who led a team to Spain in 2003. “The summer was a great learning experience about the value of team work and the cross-cultural nature of the gospel message. That summer set me on a path in my officership that I never imagined; in 2008 God would bring my family back as corps officers to the same corps where I had served on a SMT.”
Cadet Kenneth Jones shared of his 2012 SMT experience in Hungary: “One of the greatest joys came from a corps officer during an open-air ministry. There was a particular town hit by a tornado that was still recovering years later. During his altar call he got down on his knees in the dirt and began to pray with the people. I couldn’t understand him, but I could feel God’s presence. His humbleness in meeting people where they were inspired me to one day have that kind of incarnational ministry which I’m now pursuing.”
The SMT application deadline is February 21, 2018. Get details and submit an application at centralmissions.org/smt2018.
Global Mission Teams (GMT)
Global Mission Teams (GMT) present service-based opportunities for active people who want to use their skills for the Lord. In the process of labor-intensive mission, such as renovating corps and children’s homes, GMT members develop relationships with soldiers and officers and are inspired by their witness and dedication.
Members return home fulfilled in a job well done and knowing they’ve made a lasting impact on the communities where they served. Themes like joy regardless of circumstance, recapturing boldness for Christ, learning flexibility and reliance on God are often heard in their conversations.
“While in Kenya this is what I noticed—joy, lots of joy, a complete reliance on God by the people of Kenya and a passion for prayer,” said Jill Johnson, who was part of a GMT to Kenya in 2015. “There is real contentment with what they have. I am reminded daily as I get ready in the morning for work that I have it good, real good! I do not deserve it but thank God every day for the comforts I have and pray for those who do not.”
“My time on a GMT was life-changing,” reflected Lt. Vinal Lee on his experience in Tanzania in 2017. “My first opportunity overseas, GMT provided for me an affirmation God is leading me into international service. To witness the sacrifice, passion and resilience of The Salvation Army gave me a new love for our Army and desire to follow God wherever He may lead.”
This year GMTs will serve in the Philippines, the Caribbean and a medical missions team to Moldova. For more information, visit: centralmissions.org/global-mission-teams.
Territorial Women’s Teams
The newest missions opportunity specifically empowers women to make a difference. Offered by the territorial women’s ministries department, a team of up to 10 women is deployed each year for 7-10 days specifically to minister to other women and children.
“Since women’s ministries groups often have been the leaders and advocates in World Services/Self-Denial fundraising, we wanted to empower them and give them first-person experience so they could speak with knowledge and confidence to the needs overseas,” said Sarah Micula, territorial women’s ministries department program specialist.
Teams have been sent to Kenya, Grenada, Uruguay, Alaska and, most recently, Moldova. Whether participating in women’s rallies or retreats, leading Bible studies or other activities, performing community outreach or taking on refurbishments such as painting corps, these experiences build the women’s faith and help them to share the difference giving makes.
The next women’s team opportunity will be in 2019 due to the territorial women’s ministries conference this fall.
Divisional and Corps Teams
Soldiers and officers sometimes have the additional opportunities of divisional and corps mission teams. While they vary in size, purpose and time commitment, the teams are all empowering partnerships. Locations are frequently a Partner in Mission which provides participants an opportunity to see their World Services/Self-Denial giving at work and to develop crucial relationships to help move the mission forward.
Often the teams are similar to GMTs in terms of projects undertaken but occasionally they have a very unique purpose. For instance, the Northern Division sent a 10-person team in 2012 to the Turks and Caicos to help advance the Army’s work when it was new to the islands.
Sometimes teams have a sole ministry focus such as music. Since 2007 the Chicago Mayfair community Church (Corps) Band has been holding music schools at the Windsor Lodge Children’s Home in Jamaica. Nearly every year 10-12 bandsmen participate, donating not only their time and talent but the instruments they take; while there, they hold vacation Bible school and take on a construction project. Last year the Kansas and Western Missouri Division sent a team to Bolivia to support that division’s music camp for 100 students, two of whom then attended Central Music Institute. The Western Division has made a three-year commitment of sending teams to conduct music camps and provide instruments to the Ecuador Division with the goal of establishing stronger musical forces.
This year the Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., Corps will again send a mission team to conduct a day camp for children in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, maintaining a 23-year tradition that has incorporated 158 corps members; 42 subsequently have participated on SMTs, and 10 have become officers. Even more importantly, dozens of Bahamian youth have accepted Jesus as their Savior.
“We are especially blessed when we get to see so many campers from the past as adults with their own homes, jobs, families and church involvement who come to visit us and share the impact of their camp experience and relationships with team members,” said youth leader Lisa Jordan.
Enthusiastic supporters of World Service/Self-Denial, the Royal Oak Citadel, Mich., Corps also is sending a team this year to their Partner in Mission, the Kenya East Territory. Having ministered in the Bahamas several times, the corps is excited after seven years to finally participate again this way in the Army’s international mission. Corps officer Captain Catherine Mount concluded, “We always encourage our soldiers to pursue mission team opportunities, whether corps, GMTs or SMTs, when they arise so our congregation can have a connection to service around the world.”