fbpx

About Us

Vision

Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission assists mission sending and receiving entities in pursuing excellence for effective Kingdom service.

Mission

Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission is a catalyst for excellence in all short-term mission endeavors by the promotion of the Standards through training, membership, accreditation, resources, facilitation, and donor connections.

About

The Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission (SOE) is a membership, accrediting, and resourcing body for churches, agencies and schools providing benefits and services to members and non-members. SOE desires to make mission trips better by helping mission sending and receiving entities apply The Seven Standards to their specific ministry context through coaching and consulting, on-site training and mobilization, and conferences and workshops.

Philosophy

Our philosophy is to encourage, enable and equip one another to be excellent by adopting The Seven Standards and to foster a network of like-minded organizations for this pursuit. Each year, thousands of volunteers are mobilized to many international and domestic locations where they participate in evangelism, discipleship, Bible training, racial reconciliation, providing health care, addressing cultural issues faced by youth and families and much more. When a member displays the SOE logo, signifying the adoption of The Seven Standards, it demonstrates that they strive for Christ-centered and effective missions strategies, partnerships and stewardship.

Accreditation is given to churches, agencies and organizations that meet or exceed the highest best practice standards established for short-term missions. Achieving this top-tier SOE seal is rigorous and advancement is not automatic.

History

SOE has a rich history of resourcing the mission world that is both practical and authoritative going back to 1979. DELTA Ministries sent out its first mission team in 1979 and was the short-term mission vehicle for the Conservative Baptist Association of Oregon.

In 1980, DELTA sent out five teams and would send out hundreds more over the next 16 years.

In 1990, DELTA came under the sponsorship of WorldVenture, a national missions organization associated with Conservative Baptist Churches. It experienced its largest year yet in 1996 when 20 teams and 138 members were mobilized for excellent short-term mission trips.

On October 1, 1996, DELTA became an independent, interdenominational ministry mobilizing over 100 teams and 1000 team members per year at its peak. At the same time, DELTA’s CEO Brian Heerwagen joined the national steering committee for the writing of The Seven Standards and the establishment of The Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

In October 2003, the US Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission was formally launched. In time, the “US” was removed and the organization was known just as Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission or “SOE” for short. SOE was overseen by a volunteer board of short-term mission practitioners, including Brian Heerwagen who was board chairman for much of its history. From the beginning, SOE was the authoritative voice for all things short-term mission and was effective at exposing weakness by presenting excellence. However, without a staff, SOE was limited in assisting its members in applying The Seven Standards to their specific ministry context.

In 2016, sensing an expanding role for SOE but not having the staff to fulfill it, the boards of both DELTA and SOE began discussing a merger. The merger began by the end of 2016 and was finalized in early 2017.

The two boards blended and sensed that the head and body had come together. SOE defined excellence and DELTA had the staff and resources to help members become excellent! As 2017 turned into 2018, the new organization rebranded under the name SOE but the DNA of DELTA still exists in the time-tested philosophy and resources helping SOE members make mission trips better.

Our Staff

Ashley Creason

Program Manager, ShortTermMissions.com

Ashley participated in her first short term mission during a church youth group trip to Guatemala where she helped teach VBS at a daycare. She then went on to other missions in Baltimore, New Orleans, and most recently to Kenya on two separate occasions working with women’s skill/trade building, clean water projects, and a child education sponsorship program. Ashley has her Master’s in Social Work, and while in grad school her passion for international work grew alongside an interest in the benefits and risks of international aid in its various forms. Ashley has experience working in international adoption as well as advocating for international health, education, and economic opportunity solutions by lobbying at the congressional level for policy changes. Ashley recently took on the role of Program Manager for ShortTermMissions.com to help others discover their place to serve in the mission world. Ashley is married to her husband, Caleb, of 8 years, and they live in Vancouver, WA with their rescue dog, Shakira.

Fun Facts:

  • Ashley and her husband recently renovated and built their own camper van from scratch that is fully self-contained. They enjoy traveling in it with their dog on long weekend trips, enjoying God’s vast nature.
  • Ashley enjoys CrossFit as both an athlete (6+ years) and a coach (1+ year).

Brian Heerwagen

Chief Executive Officer

Brian’s first short-term mission (STM) was in 1980. Over the years, he has been to mission fields all around the globe and has led or been on countless mission trips. He has been the CEO of this ministry since 1985.

Brian has a degree in Business and Organizational Leadership. He was lead author of “The Next Mile, Short-Term Missions for the Long Haul” and was part of the national leadership movement that wrote and established the Standards of Excellence. He loves seeing people transformed from the inside out through great training and considers it a privilege to help people serve with excellence “where they live” and on mission trips. Brian and Lorraine were married in 1986, they have three grown children, all married, with kids of their own.

Fun Facts:

  • Our three kids are girls. We love and cherish each of them, and each one is extraordinary in their own way. Of course, they have some things in common, too. For example, their first names all start with an ‘L’ and their middle names start with ‘R’ – just like their mom. But they have another claim to fame – they were all married to their husbands within a nine month time period! Yes, three weddings in nine months – and we survived!
  • In my office, I have an espresso cup and saucer collection from coffee shops throughout Italy. Of the 40 sets I own, all are different, and I’ve only paid for three of them (no, the others are not stolen… but gifted by the baristas). Visitors to my office often marvel at the collection and some comment on my “lovely tea cup collection”. Hmmm… I then point to the small sign posted in front that explains that they are NOT tea cups, but demitasse cups used for various coffee drinks.

Brittany Busby

Executive Assistant

Brittany has been a part of the short-term mission world since 2007 when she did a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). Her three years with YWAM involved working in the Administration Office, staffing schools, working with local churches and traveling around the West Coast. Her time with YWAM took her to South America, Europe and Asia, doing a variety of ministries. Brittany’s first mission trip was in 1998 on a DELTA team to Naples, Italy. Twelve years later, in 2010, Brittany started working at DELTA Ministries. In 2013, she took on the role of Administrative Assistant for the Standards of Excellence (SOE). Brittany and her husband have served on youth staff at their church since 2012 and also serve on the worship team. Brittany is married to Morgan, and they welcomed their first child, Payden Ulysses in November 2017 and their second, Juliet Athena in September 2019.

Fun Facts:

  • I am known for my unusual sleep habits, like waking up in a different bed than I fell asleep in.
  • My husband and I both love sports. We both have a Fantasy Football team and fill out March Madness brackets each year. We believe there are three seasons: Football season, basketball season and baseball season. Oh, and let’s not forget about the Olympics!

Dani Cypert

Customer Care Coordinator, ShortTermMissions.com

Dani came to know Christ as a teenager and took her first mission trip in college, which radically changed her life and maturity in Christ. She has been active, along with her family, collectively and separately in mission trips and full-time ministry to the local church. Trips include serving in British Colombia, Montana, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Kenya. Other family members have had opportunities to serve in India and Chad.

She loves being in ministry serving as a pastor’s wife, where her and her husband have served with three churches in Arkansas for the past 26 years, including church planting ministry.

Dani has worked as the Customer Care provider with ShortTermMissions.com for the last seven years, working part time from her home in Arkansas. She loves both serving sending agencies and helping them promote their trips well, as well as helping people find the mission trip that is the right fit for them.

The Cypert’s have two grown children. She enjoys teaching and discipling young women to grow in their love for God’s Word and each other, befriending International college students, traveling and trying all kinds foods.

Fun Facts:

  • Dani graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a degree in Journalism/Communications and loves to write in her very little spare time.
  • She worked with college student ministry early on and the ministry actually led her to meet her husband, not what you are thinking, he was not a college student, but a young pastor!
  • She loves cooking and even the exciting risk of trying out new recipes on her quests.

Jake Embleton

Mission ConneXion Southwest Coordinator

Jake is married to the best wife in the world and has three lovely boys. He lives in Tempe, AZ with his family where they reach out to international students and help raise up global workers to be a blessing to the nations.

Jake first went through Perspectives in 2005 where he learned about God’s heart for the nations and was hooked by this love story. Jake went on four trips that year and continued to go on multiple short-tern trips over the next several years. In 2012, Jake and his family moved to North Africa to serve the people there. After returning from living overseas he joined staff at a local church.

Fun Facts:

  • Jake served in the US military as a Hospital Corpsman
  • Jake loves spending time with his family doing anything from coaching his son’s soccer teams to camping or pretty much anything outdoors.

June Cobean

Administrative Assistant

Throughout my life, Jesus Christ has been important in my family life and activities. I was raised in a Christian home with loving parents, attended a nurturing church and was involved with U.S. outreach/missions as a young adult. However, it was not until becoming a born again believer during the third decade of my life that I realized that works were not the way to salvation. This heart and mind reaction to God’s calling proved vital to my walking through and surviving many life challenges. My family, work environments and finishing my B.S. degree became mission fields with a different perspective.

Because of family illness and challenges, my first priority is any call of need I might receive. However, upon leaving full-time employment status, I volunteered at several locations. When a Czech Republic STM team member trained by SOE staff, and a personal friend of mine recommended that I contact SOE, I did so. Since February, 2013, my focus has included organizing historical data, processing merger filings/documents and a plethora of administrative support activities.

Fun Facts:

  • I love the snow, even though I’ve had three broken bones, all due to sledding accidents.
  • My attending 15 months of design school enabled me to work as a designer in Iowa for a season.

Kathy Mort

Director of Curriculum and Training / Certified Coach

Kathy has been involved in short-term missions since the late eighties. Before joining the Standards of Excellence staff she spent over thirty years in public education. During that time she primarily taught middle and high school students. After earning her doctorate in educational leadership she continued working in various district and school-based administrative roles from K-12. She has also served as an educational consultant domestically and internationally. Kathy loves working with churches and organizations to develop and implement their own training programs to equip their short-term teams. She is an adjunct professor at Gordon College in Wenham, MA, and is an active member of the missions committee in her home church.

Fun Facts:

  •  My first short-term mission trip was a one year trip to Liberia in 1986-1987.

Ken Johnson

Chief Financial Officer

Ken was appointed to the role of Business Manager of DELTA Ministries International in the fall of 2015. Ken serves to develop future and current financial plans for ministry and oversee their daily execution. He works in partnership with the CEO to provide tools and reports that assist in stewardship and resource discovery for ministry.

Ken graduated with a degree in Business Administration from Warner Pacific College in 2009. Prior to attending Warner Pacific, he obtained a degree in Youth Ministry from Columbia Bible College in British Columbia, Canada. His passion is to combine his knowledge and experience in the business world and his love for Christ and growing the Kingdom.

Ken began his missions experience through YWAM, where his time was focused on ministering to the people of Nepal. In addition to YWAM, he has served on several short-term missions, both overseas and within urban centers in both Canada and the US.

Fun Facts:

  • I share a birthday with my sister who is 2 years older than me.
  • I sold the home of a Portland Trailblazer.

Melissa White

Marketing and Communications Coordinator // Bookkeeper

Melissa is a native PNWesterner. She loves the outdoors, being with family (especially her two nephews and niece!), and traveling to new places. Places that are close to her heart include New Zealand, Africa, Italy and Israel. Missional work has always been a joy and seeing lives changed for His glory is indescribable.

Fun Facts:

  • Melissa loves anything pumpkin flavored and marshmallows are her weakness.
  • She enjoys baking and cooking.

Tory Ruark

Chief Operating Officer

Tory went on his first STM trip as a freshman in college and it turned his world upside down. God put lots of great people around him to process the experience and disciple him and, thus, he developed a passion to disciple others through the life-changing experience of going on a mission trip.

Tory began working as an STM Coach with DELTA Ministries in 2004 and became COO of Standards of Excellence (SOE) in 2016. He’s served in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, Haiti, Zimbabwe, and Italy and mobilized teams to many other countries. Tory’s Master of Divinity from Western Seminary mixed with practical experience in the STM world as a team leader, mobilizer, trainer, and pastor allows him to bring insight that’s both biblical and practical. Over the years, he has worked with churches from all over the United States, spearheaded organizational partnerships, and coordinated DELTA’s response to the earthquake in Haiti that mobilized hundreds of short-term workers over three years.

Tory is married to Judy and they have five children: Lucas, Hannah, Malayna, Tyson, and Lucy.

Fun Facts:

  • I love power naps—I can set my alarm for 5 minutes, fall asleep, have a dream, wake up and think “yes, 2 more minutes!” and then fall back asleep.
  • I once saw Julianne Hough at the ticket counter at my gate and made up a reason to go ask a question so I could meet her. As I was talking to her, I admitted I didn’t watch her show. Celebrity sighting fail…

Our Board

Charlotte Kassis

Board Member

Charlotte is passionate about participating in the Great Commission through youth and worship. She has a heart for diversity and racial reconciliation. As a youth, she began serving cross-culturally, and has been privileged to serve on over 40 short-term trips in over 20 countries. She has served in various roles in church ministry for 18 years. She is excitedly married to her husband Jusef, and they are enjoying each day they are given with their son, Nicodemus.

Fun Facts:

  • My siblings and I all have spouses of a different race. We have a beautifully blended family.
  • I have a side business called Char’s Cookie Jar, where I sell my famous homemade Choc Chip Toffee cookies.

Don Johnson

Board Chairman

Don earned his BA and MA in Bible from Columbia International University and an MBA from Liberty University. He has been a missionary with SEND International since 1987 serving first as a host-receiver for STMs in Alaska and Russia before spending 10 years as the Assistant Director and then Director of SEND’s STM department. Currently he is Assistant to the US Director for Special Projects. His responsibilities include speaking, writing, recruiting, researching missions trends and providing training for both short-term and long-term missionaries.

Fun Facts:

  • I was born in Alaska before it was a state.
  • I once climbed a 480’ radio tower to change the light bulb at the top.

Isabel Lee

Board Member

Isabel came to Christ at an early age through the faithful teaching and life testimonies of her parents. She graduated from Washington Bible College and Columbia Graduate School in Bible/Missions. After her sophomore year in college, Isabel served with SEND as a summer missionary to Taiwan and then joined SEND after graduation where she served more than 22 years in Taiwan and East Asia. She was involved in church planting: evangelism, discipleship, mentoring, seminary teaching, and leadership training. In 2000, Isabel was relocated to Hong Kong to assist SEND in starting up the Fountainhead Office. She served in various leadership roles with SEND: Taiwan Field Council, Language and Orientation Coordinator, Short-term Missions Coordinator, Advisor to the Area Director on National Church Relations, and Asia Regional Council. Isabel initiated the Asia Regional Equipment Seminar for SEND women.

Since returning to the U.S. in 2001, Isabel continues her involvement in missions, traveling to Ulan Ude, Korea, Egypt, India, and Uganda to equip believers and leaders for ministries, and to mentor those desiring to go into full-time service. She's involved in refugee work in Lebanon, Macedonia, Clarkston, GA, and Riverdale, MD. She also taught "A Taste of Perspectives" in Egypt. In recent years, Isabel has traveled to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Turkey and Qatar to learn about God’s work among the Muslims in those countries.

Isabel is an instructor of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement and Minister of Global Outreach and Women’s Ministries at Chinese Bible Church of Maryland.

Fun Facts:

  • I learned the Hakka language through reading through most books of the New Testament, and preached my first sermon after two months of study.
  • I entered Taiwan as a summer missionary on Jun 1, and when I renewed my visa after two months, the passport stamp showed Jul 1 which means I didn’t have to renew the visa at all!

Jenny Collins

Board Member

Jenny Collins has been involved in STMs since 1992 and serves as SOE Board Secretary. She is an Associate Professor of Missions and Christian Ministries at Taylor University. She directed Taylor’s Lighthouse International Service-Learning Program from 1999-2013 through which she coordinated 88 three-week trips to 24 countries. She has chaired two church mission leadership teams. She earned her BS at Taylor University and her MAR from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; she is currently a PhD student in missiology at Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, IN.

Fun Facts:

  • I am a “bird nerd” and will travel some distance to see something special like a Snowy Owl or North America’s most endangered and tallest bird species, the Whooping Crane (and yes, I’ve seen nine of them). I can recognize more than 100 bird songs and enjoy birding by ear. 
  • I grew up in an Amish town in Indiana where many Amish attended my public school. They spoke a German dialect with each other and that is where I had my first exposure to a very different culture and lifestyle.

Jesse Kroeze

Board Member

Jesse is a New Jersey native, and traveled around Central America after graduating from Taylor University seeking adventure, mastery of the Spanish language and God’s leading on his life.  It eventually brought him back to the Northeast where he took a
position with Touch the World managing a coffee-house ministry.  It was here that his path crossed with the woman who would become his wife and their combined passions eventually carried them across the Atlantic to begin a ministry in Uganda, Africa.  

After five years exploring the intricacies of community development as the Country Director of Touch The World - Uganda, Jesse was asked to return to lead the future path of the mission organization, Touch The World as Executive Director. Along with his wife and three children, their oldest adopted from Uganda, Jesse seeks to partake in sharing the global perspectives of missions we have been called to as Christ’s ambassadors.

Fun Facts:

  • I’m a coffee snob that believes coffee is an art that should be enjoyed in it’s pure state (not be polluted by cream or sugar).  Each morning I grind my freshly roasted beans and brew a 32 oz. french press that lasts the whole day.  I’m not addicted but I’m in love.  Even when on mission trips, I bring my beans and go with the hand grinder and aeropress for the win!
  • I love Survivor…yes, the reality TV show.  There’s no better entertaining social experiment of strategy, gameplay and survival.

Jolene Erlacher

Board Member

Jolene grew up as the daughter of missionaries. She has worked with short- and mid-term missions teams for over 15 years. Jolene has a doctorate in leadership and is the founder of Leading Tomorrow (www.leadingtomorrow.org). She serves as a speaker, instructor, and leadership coach, specializing in intergenerational leadership and ministry. Jolene has written two books, Millennials in Ministry and Daniel Generation. She is passionate about effectively engaging the next generation in Kingdom service. Jolene and her family currently live in central NC.

Fun Facts:

  • I have identical twin daughters and am married to a retired military officer
  • I am the oldest of six kids and was homeschooled K-12  

Marti Wade

Board Secretary

Marti Wade has been serving with Pioneers since 2007 and is currently Content Strategist for the Marketing Team. She is also editor and publisher of the weekly missions publication Missions Catalyst and has served as an instructor for Perspectives on the World Christian Movement since the 1990s. Previously she was part of Caleb Project, where she she helped train and send out dozens of short-term teams to do relationship-based research to support church planting in cultures where the people have little opportunity to hear the gospel. That kind of work allowed her to travel to Central, South, and Southeast Asia; North Africa; and Europe.

Fun Facts:

  • Marti was born five minutes after her only sibling to parents who didn’t know they were having twins.
  • Marti has spent time in several different countries she could refer to in newsletters as “Sofarawayistan.”

Randy Schmor

Board Member

Randy Schmor, NAB Gateway Director for the North American Baptist Conference. He has led and trained short-term mission teams for over two decades. He uses the guidelines within the Standards of Excellence to empower others with the knowledge and skills of how to build appropriate and thriving global partnerships. Randy has a heart to help churches partner with each other worldwide and to advance the Kingdom of God.

Fun Facts:

  • I continue to play ice hockey in a local league in Wisconsin.
  • I speak 3 languages (English, Spanish, German) and enjoy the cross-cultural relationships this affords me.