It’s estimated that over 1.5 million folks from the USA take part in short-term mission journeys yearly. That’s lots of people. And people 1.5 million folks spend near $2 billion for these journeys.
My husband and I reside in Guatemala and host short-term mission groups all year long. I’m initially from California and he was born and raised in Guatemala. For me, short-term mission journeys had been sort of like camp. Each summer season I had the prospect to go someplace new and “help people.” For my husband, internet hosting short-term mission groups in Guatemala was a part of what he and his household did. There have been blessings that got here from it, however it was principally lots of work.
We now have each seen the great, the dangerous and the ugly of short-term missions. And we proceed to really feel this stress with the short-term mission groups that we host. Do they do extra hurt than good? Do they perpetuate the cycle of poverty? Do they contribute to emotions of superiority? Or inferiority? Our work with households and communities in Guatemala, in addition to church buildings and faculties from the U.S. has pressured us to ask these questions each day.
We now have realized that maybe how we go would possibly matter extra that what we do. Right here are some things it’s possible you’ll not have heard about being simpler on short-term mission journeys:
You’re Not a Hero.
To start with, earlier than you go and while you get there, your workforce should decide to eliminating the hero complicated. Growing international locations don’t want short-term heroes. They want long-term companions. And in case your group simply needs to be a hero for per week, then it’s possible you’ll be doing extra hurt than good.
Poverty Can Look Totally different Than You Anticipate.
If on the finish of your journey you say, “I am so thankful for what I have, because they have so little.” You may have missed the entire level.
You’re poor, too. However possibly you’re hiding behind all of your stuff. There may be materials poverty, bodily poverty, non secular poverty and systemic poverty. All of us need to acknowledge our personal brokenness and deep want for God earlier than we will anticipate to serve others.
Historic Context Could Be Simply As Vital as Instant Context.
Have you ever studied the historical past of the nation or neighborhoods the place you’re going? Do you perceive the position that the U.S. has performed there? Are you aware what the position of the Church and missions has been? Are you aware the present wants and problems with the folks? Having background data of the place you’re going will assist you understand how one can finest match and assist in your fast context.
Don’t Do a Job Folks Can Do for Themselves.
Final time I checked, folks in creating international locations can paint a wall, so why are you doing it for them? If portray a wall or college is mostly a want within the place the place you’re working then invite college students from that faculty or folks from the village to do it with you.
Doing issues with folks, not for folks must be the motto. At all times.
Studying Takes Place within the Context of Reciprocal Relationships.
Be prepared to share about your loved ones, your ache and your wants. Typically folks in creating international locations assume everybody within the U.S. is wealthy, white and comfortable. We all know this isn’t true, and we’ve the prospect to share actually and vulnerably. Prioritize constructing relationships over finishing initiatives.
You’re an envoy out of your nation. Because of globalization, YouTube and Fb, most creating international locations could have sure concepts concerning the U.S. earlier than you arrive. Be prepared to ask questions and share about your self and American tradition, as properly.
Alongside the identical traces, earlier than you are taking an image, ask your self, “Would I mind if a foreigner took a picture of my daughter/son/sister/brother in this situation?” If the reply is sure, then don’t take it. Come again with tales and names of individuals, not simply a complete album of “cute” anonymous children.
There may be One thing Particular About Going.
All of this isn’t meant to discourage missions work. Quite the opposite, the act of going is essential. Jesus left His dwelling, the consolation of the Father to go, to be among the many folks. Your willingness to go away your property, your consolation and GO is an instance of that, too.
So go, be among the many folks. Reside with them. Study from them. Eat what they eat. Observe what they do. Don’t spend your time in McDonalds.
Don’t Increase $1,000 for a Week, and Then Give Nothing Else the entire Yr.
Everyone knows cash will not be every little thing. However when used correctly it could make an enormous distinction within the lives of individuals. You most likely wrote letters and had automotive washes as a way to elevate cash to go, proper? Properly, what retains you from nonetheless doing that? We work laborious for a one-week journey, however then what? What in case your church or youth group or college labored on matching each greenback you spent in your one-week journey to ship all the way down to the place you served over the course of the 12 months?
You Don’t Should Fly in an Airplane to Serve the Poor.
Why not deal with looking for justice in your neighborhood? Ask your self, “If Jesus was here who would He be talking to?” The child with disabilities who sits within the again at youth group? The Spanish-speaking man who cleans your workplace? The lady who collects cans within the native park? Ask God to provide you eyes to see what He does. It’d change your life.
Please don’t cease taking short-term lacking journeys, however do take into account serving to your workforce perceive that how we do short-term mission journeys might, in reality, matter greater than what we do.
An earlier model of this text appeared in 2014.