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Empowerment teams

Bringing people together across nations and tongues to help the oppressed.

OUR APPROACH

Our approach to short-term teams is a bit different than what you might find other places. We view the short-term trip experience as a small part of something much bigger that God is doing in both the lives of our short-term team members and in our community of Masatepe. Rather than just having people show up for a week and then go back home, we have found incredible value in the pre-trip, on-site, and post-trip pieces of the experience.

All of our teams prepare their hearts before coming by working through our empowerment curriculum and skyping with members of our Nicaragua team during pre-trip team gatherings. On-site, we incorporate things like Spanish and cultural lessons and visits to Nicaraguan families, as well as intentional times to learn from our Nicaraguan teammates and community friends.

While many traditional short-term trips focus solely on completing a project, we seek to utilize teams to advance already-existing, ongoing initiatives in Masatepe, both in and outside of ITeams. We believe that the learning and relationship-building that happen are just as important as the physical work that is being accomplished. We avoid paternalism and strive to work alongside our Nicaraguan counterparts as equals in all that we do.

We seek to educate and equip people to serve well, to walk alongside them in being learners and servants, to build bridges between people from different nations, ethnicities, and tongues, to advance the work of bringing people together to help the oppressed, and to empower people as they ask God the question, “What’s next?”

Community

APPLICATION PROCESS

We aren’t just looking for teams to fill our calendar; we are looking for the right partners to whom God would lead us. The process of bringing down a team to serve alongside us starts with an initial skype call between our Short-Term and Empowerment Teams Coordinator as well as a leader from the potential church, university, or organization. Through conversation, prayer, and careful consideration of God’s leading, we come to a decision on whether or not each group is a good fit for our community at this time. It is our desire that both our team in Nicaragua and you as a leader in your home context would intentionally seek God’s plans and timing.

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A few of the qualities we look for in potential team leaders are…

  • Posture of a learner, not a fixer or solver
  • Humility
  • Existing engagement in OR heart for missions/poverty alleviation
  • Strong commitment to sticking to healthy methods of poverty alleviation
  • Willingness to submit to local leaders
  • Respect of team--strong relationships in the church, but can also say no when needed
  • Prior experience in cross-cultural travel, relationships
  • Willingness to be the point person and a strong leader/communicator
  • Leadership by example
  • Understanding of the trip as a process (before, during, and after)
  • Understanding that the community has assets and not just challenges

A few of the qualities we desire in potential short-term team members are…

  • Clear prayer and thought about involvement, not just an emotional response
  • Understanding our vision
  • Humility
  • Teachable, the posture of a learner
  • Willingness to learn about cultural and language differences
  • Emotional and spiritual maturity

PARTNERSHIP MODEL

A different kind of short-term teams

We are moving towards an increased focus on what we call empowerment teams. Empowerment teams make a commitment to learning and going over an extended period of time. A good starting point for a church, organization, or university is three trips over three years. Investments start small and grow appropriately beside deepening relationships and understanding. It begins as a short-term trip focused on listening, learning and encouraging. Relationships form with expatriate cross-cultural workers who will be essential for guidance and bridging the gap between cultures. Relationships also form with nationals who understand the local culture and hold the keys to effectively bring about long-lasting transformation in a community.

We are currently looking for partners who intentionally adopt the heart of a servant seeking to ask the right questions, gain understanding, and establish deep relationships before they respond with action. Becoming an empowerment partner is not something that happens by chance, but rather an intentional, conscious decision to go deeper in relationship on the part of the host community and the partnering church. While we love hosting a variety of teams, long-term partnership and transformation is our end goal. We currently have two empowerment church partners and in total host ten to twelve teams on-site each year.

If you are interested in finding out more about our mission trips or learning more about our partnership model, please contact Mandy at mandy.haffer@iteams.org.

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