Case Studies

How to Waha: Short Term Trips

In 2009, over 1.5 million Christians from the United States went on a short term mission trip, and that number had been growing exponentially. (Fanning, Don) Yet, many long-term missionaries are becoming increasingly hesitant about hosting them. Engaging a new culture can be challenging, even for someone who has lived there for decades. So how can it be effective in just a few weeks? Many mission trips, after all, rely on a team of zealous youth who sweep into a nation and practice evangelistic methods that oftentimes cannot be replicated by the long-term workers left behind. Yet, in an increasingly globalized world, more people are traveling and becoming exposed to other cultures all the time, so it seems like something that should work as a strategy.

We think Waha can help.

Case Study: Lauren and John (Oceania)

Lauren and John are long-term missionaries in a very diverse island nation. They had lived for nearly a decade among Hindus, Muslims, Africans, and Chinese peoples. Not only did they long to see these people reached, but they wanted to give back in some way to the next generation of missionaries. After all, they had both experienced a calling to long-term overseas work on a short-term trip. So they welcomed teams to their island whenever possible.

Unfortunately, these teams never bore any fruit that remained.

Lauren and John did everything they knew to do. They set up complex google docs so that the short-termer could report about the people they were sharing with. They spent ample time training the teams who would come to their island and tried to make space to be introduced to any local who the team had been meeting with. But the result was always the same. Locals would be excited to pray with short-term visitors and confess Jesus but as soon as the team left, they refused to be discipled by John and Lauren, preferring instead to go back to their temples, mosques and pagodas.

One year, John heard about the Waha Disciple Making Course. He was skeptical at first because he didn’t know how much a team of young people from the States could really get about Disciple Making in such a short time. But he liked how much pressure it would take off of his shoulders to train the team. They decided to challenge the team to go through the Disciple Making Course before they arrived in country. John also hired a group of young locals to act as translators for the short-term team. Every week, the team would meet with the locals and go through a new lesson on the Waha mobile app.

By the time the team was ready to leave, all the translators had been touched by God and wanted to continue meeting for Waha lessons with John and Lauren. Not only that, but one of the translators started sharing with his family and they wanted to experience God too, so he started a group at home! The short-term teams also went home with a new passion for making God known in their cities. They shared about Waha with their college leaders and missions pastors who now use it to reach the lost back home.

How it works

Even with Waha, short-term trips can be tricky. That’s why we have a few pointers if you are planning a short-term trip and want to make sure it is as successful as possible...

  1. Translators: Imagine you’re running to your local coffee shop and you're stopped by a couple of college students from the Middle East. They spend about five minutes explaining the pillars of Islam to you and then ask you to change your entire worldview. This is what it’s like for a local talking to a short-term missionary. Real life change is often facilitated over a period of time in discipleship. That’s why John hired local translators and envisioned the team to pour into them as much as possible. If you are planning a short-term trip, try to find ways that you can already have people in-country waiting on you. Then try to find a way to keep those locals around to be discipled as long as the team is there. If possible, we highly recommend hiring translators the way John did.
  2. An extended trip: Speaking of limited time, it’s equally important to remember that the more time a short-term team has, the greater its impact can be. Lauren and John felt blessed to be connected with an organization that has moved away from two-week mission trips. Instead, this organization’s short-term trip strategy focuses on sending young people out for 2 to 3 months. This allows the short-term team room to settle into the culture and actually live life there a bit. It multiplies their time to invest in locals, and with Waha, it’s especially helpful because they can make their way through many of the lessons before leaving.
  3. Preparation: As mentioned above, John and Lauren had the team go through the Waha Disciple Making Course before they arrived in country. This allowed them to better prepare for their trip and it blessed their home church by starting to make disciples at home. It also served John and Lauren who could focus their energies on preparing the team in other ways. Lauren was about to teach the team about how to be respectful to the host culture, as well as share some tips for everyday life there.
  4. Coaching: Another aspect Johna and Lauren felt contributed to their success was to coach the short-term team leaders. Once a week, they had them over for dinner to discuss how the trip was going. Lauren also invited the girls from the team to go on evening walks with her so she could be a spiritual mother to them. They even found the team a place to stay that was a short walk from their house so they could pop by at any time.


Whether you are a long-term missionary trying to figure out how to make short-term teams work, a missions pastor trying to get your congregation engaged in the nations, or a short-term team leader who just wants to lead a good trip, we think you can do it! Short-term trips can be tricky for sure, but with a little planning they can leave behind the beginnings of a movement. We’ve developed the Waha mobile app, as well as the Disciple Making Course, to be as helpful a tool as possible to support that goal.

Get your team started on the Disciple Making Course today by clicking here.