Is There Value to Short-Term Missions?

I was asked last month to do a write up for the UWM blog regarding my thoughts and views of short term mission work. As many of you know Lara and I cut our teeth in missions serving churches through short term mission trips. We had great experiences, learned a lot, and gained a new heart for the world through these years. Unfortunately, not everyones experience with short term mission teams is as good as ours was. Short term missions can too often be disruptive, inconsistent, and harmful…unless they are done with a few long term goals and thoughts in mind. Here is our my story…


For many of us we we hear someone say “short-term” missions or a missions trip, and we associate a negative feeling or thought with those phrases. We stereotype what they look like and the impact they could have on the “real” work of missions. We ask questions like: How helpful could this really be? What could short-term trips really accomplish in just a small period of time?  Are they going to be helping or will they just hurt the work we are doing?  If we are really honest with ourselves, we don’t see a great deal of value or need for short-term missions.

What if this way of thinking may not be all there is to short-term missions? What value can we find in short-term work, if any? I have one thought about the benefit of short-term missions.

spanky st trip
My first hike into the jungles of Chiriqui, Panama, 2004

I could share with you many stories, and some of them would be your story, that long-term missionaries have told me about how God led them into missions.  For many missionaries it started with them first participating in a short-term trip.  Many of us have committed to give our life to missions because of a short-term mission trip.  Many of us realized the call of God on our lives when we stepped out of our comfort zones and went on a trip to serve in another country for two weeks.  Many of us experienced how God could use us and wanted to use us.  Many of us received a passion for a specific place, people group, or type of ministry because we said yes to going on a short-term mission trip.


For me personally, I look back and remember many of the short-term mission trips that I took as a teenager and younger adult.  They were highly instrumental in shaping who I am today as a man, minister, and follower of Christ.  I often think back to a specific short-term mission trip that I took 12 years ago when I clearly heard the call of God on my life to pursue Him and to live intentionally/missionally.  I was sitting in a tent in the middle of the Panamanian jungle when I believe I heard the voice of God call to me.  I was out of my comfort zone, working with local pastors, experiencing a different culture and language when I was awakened to the possibility that God not only could use me but wanted to use me to reach the nations with His Good News.

spanky panama
Because of that trip my family and I committed our lives to a missional way of living, whether it was in our neighborhood, our school, our church, and/or around the world.


I understand that short-term missions – if not done correctly or are not closely tied to the long-term goals – can do more harm than good. But, I also believe that they can be a tool that helps fuel the fire of missions around the world!  I have seen and experienced how God can use short- term missions as an on-ramp to a life of leading others in a growing relationship with Jesus while loving and serving them well.

Who is God calling today who will only encounter His purpose for their life through the experience of going on a short-term missions trip?  Many, many more Kingdom workers, I believe!

By: Spanky Rouse, Mobilizer & Coach – Africa & Asia

J-Life Leaders Summit, South Africa part 1

Leo (my friend from UWM living in South Africa), Palgrave (from Ghana), and me
Two weeks ago I arrived in another country for the first time. South Africa! I have heard a lot about this place but really had no idea what it was like. All I knew about this country was Nelson Mandela and the rugby movie with Matt Damon. South Africa is an extremely beautiful and wonderful place! It definitely has a different feel than anywhere else in Africa that I have been to but still has a little sense of Africa underneath the initial impressions.


This week I was invited to come to a leaders summit for a new ministry that we are looking at partnering with called J-Life. J-Life focus is raising up indigenous leaders who will passionately pursue the mission of making disciple makers. I don’t know that I have seen any other organization so laser focused on making disciples like these guys. Their vision is clear and their methods are simple and highly effective! They believe that if they can especially disciple the youth of this continent they can reach the entire continent of Africa. They are currently serving in 30+/- countries and doing pretty well. I am excited for the future of United World Mission and J-Life’s partnership. J-Life
J-Life country leaders working on strategies together
While being here in South Africa I have come up with 10 things that I have seen, heard, or experienced that stood out to me this week. When I get the opportunity to travel to a new place I love seeing the differences as well as similarities of other places so making a list of 10 things really helps me with this.
So here they are…
  1. Africa is the most beautiful place in the world to me and I find myself falling in love every time I come back.
  2. No matter what country, region, or tribe you are from, all of us need some close relationships to make life better.
  3. Africans wake up ridiculously early and when they do they are not quiet they immediately get LOUD! Usually with singing.
  4. Africans will willingly give you the shirt off their back if you asked for it or not.
  5. Everybody loves free stuff! No matter what continent you lI’ve on, you love free stuff but Africans appreciate the free stuff more than most.
  6. Africans love you and make you a part of the family within a couple minutes meeting them. They have never meet a stranger.
  7. God is always present no matter where you go in this world. The problem is, the enemy is also.
  8. Africans don’t always do simple things in simple ways. They do it the way their families have always done it.
  9. Africans love to sing and dance no matter what country, culture, or language.
  10. This place and these people are like good medicine for my soul! You should try it sometime too.

    A late afternoon way out away from the city enjoying a long walk

What Africa really needs

This is an article that I read on The Gospel Coalition website a few weeks ago. This story proves why we are focusing on more training of Christian leaders and discipleing believers in Africa at UWM (read to the end to hear more). It is an inspiring story of what God can do through anyone.

Bringing Christ to Castaways

He was cursed before he ever came out of his mother’s womb.

Maxwell Blay grew up in Ghana as an outcast of his tribe, stigmatized as unclean by virtue of being the tenth-born of his mother. The Bulu curse branded him and all those around him. Yet he had not been aborted before birth—the fate of his kind—or killed or abandoned in the jungle. Instead, his parents chose to keep him, even in the face of condemnation. His mother, strengthened by her Christian faith, put her trust in the Lord in sending Maxwell to them.

The belief in Bulu or Badu, the Ghanaian name meaning tenth-born child, springs from dark tribal folklore in remote areas of the country, and marks people as cursed. This same superstition applies to so-called “spirit children,” those born disabled or diseased, or whose mothers die in childbirth.

Though no official statistics exist, it’s believed that thousands of babies have been put to death. Untold more are abused, exploited or abandoned.

Maxwell, whose wife, Joana, is also the tenth-born in her family, carries a heavy burden for castaways. Through God’s miraculous providence, he became founder and president of Ransom Foundation, an indigenous Christian charity. In 2007 he partnered with the Children’s Hunger Fund Mercy Network (CHF)to reach out to people in dire poverty. To read more….

In 1910, 9% of Africans professed to be Christian. Today, that number is 38%. This tremendous growth has left Africa in a desperate need of discipleship and leadership training. By 2050, it is estimated that 1 in 3 Christians in the world will be African.


One of the ways we, UWM and the RouseHouse, are tackling this great need is through a ministry in South Africa called East Mountain. They are dedicated to developing Christian leaders from Africa as well as the US. Participates in the East Mountain program receive practical experience in local ministry while being mentored spiritually and theologically by seasoned leaders. These participated return to their local communities more equipped to be effective, godly leaders. m,mm

I am very excited to share with you that Lara and I will have the chance to visit East Mountain in Cape Town this month! We both feel blessed to have this opportunity to travel together as well as it is the first time in 5 years that both of us have been in Africa!!! Please pray for us as we prepare and travel to South Africa. We will be sure to send some vlogs (videos blogs) while we are there.

Thank you for all that you do in partnering with the RouseHouse!




Thailand weekly update, 2016

Earlier this year I decided to start vlogging instead of just writing blogs. I’m still trying to get the hang of it. One reason for this change was to give others an opportunity to experience the amazing places I get to visit and people I work with. Unfortunately, here in Asia I am not able to disclose many of our field personnel due to safety measures but I can share the beauty of God’s creation like here in Thailand! 

This week is the annual UWM Asia Conference and here is an update of me sharing what I have been able to experience and get out of this time. Thank you for following along! 


That isn’t smoke, it is midst rising from the falls. You can see it from miles away.

Every couple of years we gather all of our missionaries from around the African continent for what we call conference. This is a time of renewal, rest, realignment. This was my first time attending the UWM African Conference and it was held in Vic Falls, Zimbabwe…It’s actually called the Afro Conference but I just can’t bring myself to call it that :)… This was my first chance to meet many of these missionaries. I have talked on the phone, Skype, and emailed most of them but there is nothing like face to face time! I spend almost every minute of this week meeting with people to hear their stories, getting to know them, finding out ways I can better serve them, and praying for them. They are long days and I am always exhausted by the time I get back on my plane to head home but I wouldn’t want it any other way! I love what I do!

The Baobab is also called the upside-down tree because when bare of leaves, the spreading branches of the Baobab look like roots sticking up into the air, as if it had been planted upside-down. – This isn’t even the largest of their kind!

I had an opportunity to speak to 3 different groups while I was there and give a brief presentation on how we were going to serve them and their ministries better. My number one goal was to connect with them personally and have them leave feeling like I was for them and their ministry. By the power of the Holy Spirit it went great! I was able to gain their trust, let them see my passion for Africa, and begin building a strong relationship with them. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Psalm 66:3Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You. 4"All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name."
Psalm 66:3Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You. 4″All the earth will worship You, And will sing praises to You; They will sing praises to Your name.”




I was texting Lara one day to tell her how the day was going and she said, “You have the best job in the world!” I think it was because I mentioned to her that I was standing at the glorious Victoria Falls having a delicious cappuccino. My “job” is pretty awesome! I get to travel to amazing places, meet awesome people, help others achieve their dreams, passions, and calling, and I have the privilege of seeing/being a part of the Church taking action by equipping leaders, establishing new churches, and engaging in holistic ministries.

Some crazy, fun parts of my trip to Zimbabwe were:

Two of the great minds and missional hearts that I get to serve alongside! Kevin (expansion) and Tom (strategy)
Two of the great minds and missional hearts that I get to serve alongside! Kevin (expansion) and Tom (strategy)


visiting Victoria Falls – it is mind-blowing at how grand and beautiful it really is!!! NO WORDS!

eating some wild game like buffalo, crocodile (taste like tough chicken), warthog (the best meat I have ever tasted! So tender you need no knife), antelope, ox tail (fatty, I do not recommend it), ox liver (not bad), some other animals liver, and a couple other ones.

raIMG_4468fting sown the mighty Zambezi – No joking here, I thought at one moment I had taken my final breath of air while being tossed around a whirl pool in a class 5 rapid! It was an amazing experience after that! The hike in and out of the gorge was pretty awesome too!

watching elephants from the deck just before dinner come to the watering hole in large herds!IMG_4633








watching the sunrise over the African plain each morning!

Sunrise from my room
Sunrise from my room







One of my favorite pictures! This is the sunset on the Zambezi river.

taking a sunset cruise on the Zambezi leaves you breathless!







Shortly after snapping this picture this little guy attacked me! I was definitely more scared of him than he was of me!


Watching monkeys jump in your room to steal food or jump up on the table in the restaurant to grab the sugar packets never gets boring.










Africa always seems to surprise me with its beauty and awaken my soul to the voice of God. The sights, sounds, smells, taste, and people refresh me every time and leave me wondering when the Father is going to ask my family and I to move there. But until then I am choosing to enjoy this wonderful

journey that He so faithfully is leading me on! Jeremiah 1: 4Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”


To all of you who prayed for me and for my family during this time I want to say Thank You!

Off to the races!

This year is off to a fast start with a ton of really cool things in the making!

Billy and I at the gate of one of the largest Buddhist temples in Bangkok, Thailand

I feel like I am starting to pick speed and understanding with my job and ministry roles at United World Mission. I don’t feel as much like the new guy who has no idea what is going on, which is very comforting. Since I returned home from Thailand (I will be writing some more about my time and experiences there later on) I have a deeper sense of who our field missionaries are and what we are doing in the way of work/ministry. In my first couple of months I felt a bit lost trying to catch up on who and what is going on around the world but now feel like I have a better handle on things…at least in Asia because I went to the Asia Conference. I am planning on writing up some stories and bios in the next few weeks on these unbelievable people who I get to serve with in Asia so be on the look out for those.  You will want to know all that God is doing among some of the most unreached, really cool stuff.

Now I am looking to learn my African fields and missionaries so I can best serve them. In getting to know some of our leaders in East Africa via Skype I have been reminded how much I love Africa! Talking with them over the past couple weeks has spark so much excitement and conversation in the Rouse House about serving in Africa again together soon. We just can’t get away from the cool God stuff that is happening and could happen in that wonderful place. We will see what God has in store in the days and years to come.1_152853_1

At home in Charlotte, I have been able connect with so many people from around the country that are interested in missions. I LOVE this part of my “job”. I get to talk with people about the passions, calling, and conviction to “GO” that He is putting in their hearts. My role is to encourage and coach them on when, where, how, and what…all radical life changing decision with radical world-changing possibilities. Some may wonder, as I did in the beginning days, how I am impacting the nations by not living overseas and being a field missionary. My answer today is, I may have one of the biggest impacts because I am apart of sending, training, preparing, encouraging, and inspiring ordinary people to go do extraordinary God work around the globe. That is absolutely THRILLING for me to think about!

this is the awesome team I get to work closely with…minus our fearless leader, Mark

I am also involved in some team development, Expansion opportunities (Opening up new countries or creating new ministries opportunities…this is so fun!), and Partnerships (local churches, ministries, organizations, etc). I love the flexibility to learn, grow, and be developed so that I can find what my sweet spot is and work with in my wheel house. UWM is a GREAT place to serve and work! I really do believe that I am so blessed!

As always, The Rouse House is extremely THANKFUL for each one of you that pray, support, and give to us so that we can do what He has called us to and be who he has created us to be!

If you would like to know how you can partner and support the Rouse House please click here. We are asking God for a handful of people to help fill the $500 a month need in our support raising budget so that as a family we can take advantage of more opportunities to serve in missions. We would love for YOU to pray and consider joining us.

Broken and heavy hearts

Just want to let you know that I will not be posting pictures of our missionaries because many of them are in places that are hostile to the Gospel and believers. Thanks for understanding. 

I am sure I will have quit a few stories and blogs come out of my time here in Thailand. It is an amazing place and I have been privilege to be with some amazing people, hero of the faith really.

During the first couple days of being here in Thailand I sat with some of our missionaries that are serving all over Asia. My goal was to get to know them, hear their stories, encourage them, and see how I can best serve and resource them. It didn’t take but a few conversations to know that the life of a missionary is not an easy one. I knew this but still thought that they were always happy and joyful because they are walking with the Lord. Made sense to me until I saw and heard what life really is like as a missionary in some of the darkest places in the world.

Our second morning here we had a time of prayer and worship. These times were so incredible, even though there was no special lights, super talented worship leaders, and sound systems. Don’t get me wrong I love and value all of those things on a Sunday morning when I am at y home church. There is just something special about the simplicity and authenticates of worship when you get to travel to other places in the world.

During this time I couldn’t help but to have a heavy and broken hearts for the people in that room. A people that are living in some extreme areas with little to nothing but their worship was joyful, inspiring, almost overwhelming with excitement for God. As they stood with their hands lifted, knees bowed, and spirits in tune to the Father I stood speechless and tearful in the back of the room. I realized that this group of faithful believers knew what it meant to trust in God and live on mission. It was lie they were begging for the Spirit to come and flood them…and they were expecting for that very thing to happen.


God I beg that you will allow me to know what it is like to have such a relationship with you. One that I search for in my every moment and experience in whatever circumstance of the day.

Will you PLEASE be praying for those who are serving the Lord and literally sacrificing their life for the name of Jesus to be known! There is a real battle in this world between light and dark…as the body of Christ we can all play a role.