Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Short Term Missions ~ Controversial?
Twenty or so years ago, when I was in Bible College, I remember many representatives from different mission organizations encouraging short term missions trips. They knew a great secret that the way to light a passion in someone's heart for the mission was to bring them to that ministry spot to see, hear, smell, and even taste the work that God was doing there.
Lately, I have seen many many articles (and even books) written condemning short term missions trips. I've read many arguments complete with real life examples of church buildings/schools being painted over and over by different mission teams within the same summer. Really?? REALLY????
When I read these things I am just dying to ask so many questions!! Who organized that trip?? Who allowed that to happen? Why didn't the mission just tell the group they had nothing for them to do? When the team went down to paint what they would have found to be perfectly painted walls, why didn't they just put their brushes down and go spread the gospel in the villages/town/city?
Is the conclusion to these stories to stop short term trips? Or is the conclusion to be smarter about the trips we fund and take?
I hate to be controversial in my blog. I really do... So I hope I am not coming across that way!!
I can just imagine that if I were a missionary, working hard and trying to not let weariness take over, that I would love to have a team of people say to me: "Hey, I want to come to where you are to encourage you and help you lift your burden." It just makes sense to me. Hopefully if the timing were bad I could say, "Now is not a good time, could you come in *such and such* a time?"
My husband just returned from a week long trip to Nicaragua, joining Messiah Project Nicaragua . The leaders of Messiah Project did such an amazing job in organizing the work for our church's team. They got to visit 2 villages per day, sharing the gospel in cooperation with the pastors there, giving out rice and oil, giving away soccer balls and bracelet crafts (wordless book colors). Then they got to go back to The Land of Judah orphanage (where they were staying) to play with the kids when they got home from school. It was really just amazing, the perfect blend of really helping and experiencing and seeing the work that God is doing through Messiah Project. My husband really cannot say enough great things about it!!
Life is easy when it's black and white. I love easy as much as the next guy and I can slip comfortably into *black and white*. It requires no wisdom, no discernment, no prayer, no wrestling. You just need the *rule book.* You decide ahead that all short term missions trips are evil or good. You choose a side and stick with it. Simple, right?
Yeah, no. Life is never black and white. God is too big for our boxes. We go where we're called. We pray, wrestle, search the Bible, use it's wisdom and discernment, make a decision. We're called, we go. I am pretty sure that when we follow God some will disagree and tell us so. It won't be comfortable.
Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we mess up and need God's grace. That. is life. It's not neat and tidy. It's not black and white. It's all the colors. :)
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." " Isaiah 30:21