The key to medical missions is to multiply yourself.

You see, you will arrive in a foreign land, offer your valuable medical expertise, make a difference in a community, but then you will leave. You will come home changed and on a “spiritual high,” with memories of positive interactions and life-changing experiences, but those you leave behind are left waiting for the next group to replace you. They rely on the service — not the people serving — because they expect to have their physical needs met by medical mission’s teams who come and go.

But what would most benefit a community is to stop offering a transactional service that comes and goes, but instead provide a transformational service — one that sticks in between and long after your visit.

John Maxwell said, “Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” To spread the power and produce other leaders, medical mission’s teams need to focus on multiplying. This doesn’t mean to show up with bigger and better mission’s teams in the future. Instead, intentionally plan how you will leave a place better than when you arrived. Don’t allow important value to be taken away once your trip comes to an end.

Think about this: will you offer services from you and you alone or will you train and equip those within the community to maintain and profit from your labor? True, lasting change comes from building a foundation rather than placing a band-aid on the problem time and time again. Band-aids can easily be ripped off and removed while a foundation allows for one to build.

It’s important to keep in mind that teaching is required for a change to stick.

Just like the saying goes: ”Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”  Don’t make being the fisherman your main focus. Instead, prepare local fisherman to do the same job just as well if not better!

While you are onsite, offer your medical expertise, but schedule time for training as well! Allow local medical staff to observe or even perform the services with your assistance until they can confidently be on their own! Locals are going to be the ones who remain and produce a lasting change. They are just as capable but simply need the training you have experienced. The best thing you can do on a mission’s trip is to instruct, demonstrate, and develop!“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” —Nelson Mandela

Don’t just travel to see a difference in the short time you are serving, travel to make a long-lasting difference and multiply yourself.

You don’t have to be the best in your field or save the most lives; you simply have to care. Don’t settle for short-term satisfaction and healing when you have the chance to spread and multiply your efforts! Just like Jesus didn’t heal the sick and walk away, he passed along His wisdom to His disciples to carry this love even after He left this earth.

Go, serve, and multiply yourself!

See you in the mission field!

Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ