Thinking Globally - Principles for Success in Short-Term Missions

March-April 2019
By: Bruce Compton


In the past few years, the Catholic Health Association has conducted two phases of research on short-term medical missions — learning from those who conduct the trips from the U.S., and alternatively, from those who host U.S. mission trips in countries around the globe. The results led CHA to publish Recommendations for Practice as a guide and framework for entering into these activities; however, there is still much to be considered on the topic.

One thing we learned from comments gleaned from both phases of research relates to partnership and the importance of having a permanent presence/connection between those coming and those who call the mission trip location home. There has to be an ever-present ability to communicate the challenges and successes of a medical mission trip and to discern together any future activities.

In "Lessons Learned in El Salvador," representatives of PeaceHealth detail some lessons learned from its international activity in El Salvador. With 18 years having a representative and doing mission work in the country, it is an example of solidarity in practice. I hope it inspires the international outreach work of your ministry, while also sparking conversation about what might not have been considered in respect to the activity. Overall, we must continue to discern how it is that we carry out our tradition of bringing help and hope in a global era.

BRUCE COMPTON, senior director, international outreach, the Catholic Health Association, St. Louis.


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