Our church just announced our short term mission opportunities for 2015. With an attendance of over 10,000 people, the booklet is quite thick. Is God calling you to Wales or India, Honduras or Macedonia? South Africa, Uganda, Haiti… the list goes on and on.
As I leafed through the pages, I asked God—are any of these trips for me? What do You want me to do this year? “Just moving will be enough for you for this year,” came the quiet reply. I admit I breathed a sigh of relief. Moving has been all-consuming for the past month, and there’s much more to do still. It’s amazing how much work it takes to simplify one’s life!
Still, I vividly remember reading a similar booklet two years ago, asking God the same question, and getting a much different answer. Much to my astonishment, the type on the page for Swaziland leapt off the page at me. It was so pronounced that at first I thought the page had been printed in bold.
I didn’t know why God wanted me to go to Swaziland. I’m not much of a “kid person” and this trip was all about kids. I signed up in pure obedience; it wasn’t until later that we realized we needed a person on the team dedicated to taking photos.
I’m going to be honest—I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to write a post for today. Between numerous field trips to photograph bugs, flowers, and birds, a good friend’s birthday party, and an overnight babysitting one of my granddaughters, I haven’t sat down in days. Today I have a choice: write a post or clean the house. I really need to clean the house!
Now you have my list of excuses, but I’m not going to leave you high and dry. My sister-in-law sent me a link to an article in Leadership Journal that I want to share with you. Many of us go overseas on short-term mission trips, often involving orphans, work projects, or both. Yet, how often do we hear about our trip from the perspective of the children we go to visit?
This article was written by a Kenyan AIDS orphan who was on the receiving end of dozens of American mission trips. It’s a real eye-opener! Once you’ve read it, let me know what you think.
(If you missed the rest of my posts about my upcoming mission trip to Swaziland, you can read them here, here, here, and here.)
We have plane reservations! I’m staring at a piece of paper listing our flights… a red-eye from Denver to London, then another red-eye from London to Johannesburg. When we finally arrive, at 7 a.m. local time, bleary and jet-lagged, we’ll board a van provided by Children’s Hope Chest (CHC) and drive the six or so hours to our home base in Manzini, Swaziland. I hope I can still function that afternoon!
Thanks to God nudging some extremely generous folks, my support is slowly coming in as well. Although I missed the first deadline (we were supposed to raise $1,500 by the end of May to pay the deposit on our plane reservations), I’m on track for the next one—$3,000 of the $3,500 total is due at the end of July. As of last week, my account contained over $2,300—what an incredible answer to prayer!
Short-term missions. I’m for them. I’m against them. I’ve waffled back and forth for several years, seeing good points and bad points. You may have read my daughter’s post about her short-term experiences, or some of my own thoughts on the topic (see “World” listed in the Categories to the right) . We’ve supported friends and relatives going overseas, I’ve read numerous books and articles, and I’ve even accompanied Pete as he’s attended meetings and spoken at conferences on several continents. Sure, there’s always some role for me to play on those trips, some way I can be helpful, but I’ve always been there as Pete’s wife, not me.
Well, this year all that will change.
“My goal is that everyone in this church go on a short-term mission trip.”
Our Mission Pastor was talking to the “Global” Sunday School about our church’s mission strategy. I was sitting there, mostly nodding, until we came to this declaration. Everyone? Does God want that?
The Great Commission is a familiar passage to most Christians: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Every so often I come across a post on another blog that is so much better than anything I could write on a particular topic, I just have to share it. Actually, I come across superior blogs all the time, but if I told you about all of them, you’d have no reason (or time) to read mine. I’m normally quite selfish about these things.
However, “Jamie the Very Worst Missionary” (see blog roll at left) has expressed an important concern about short-term missions that should be required reading in every church. I just can’t keep this one to myself.
So, here you go. Read “Using your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson.” And when you’re done reading that, go ahead and read some of her other posts. And then read her husband’s posts on his blog—in fact, I highly recommend his series on the what, where, why, etc., of short term missions according to the gospels (to find all the posts, just type “short term missions” into his search box).
See you next week. I hope.
Should I go on a short-term mission trip this year? If so, where?
Our church recently announced this year’s short-term mission trips, and I was staring at the list. The glossy brochure, with its glowing descriptions of each destination and the life-impacting ministry we could do there, was very impressive. In keeping with our congregation of over 10,000, there were a lot of trips to choose from: Afghanistan, Myanmar, Israel, Egypt, India, Honduras, South Africa, Germany… with more to be added later. Our church is in partnership with missionaries and indigenous ministries in these and other places. Every year short-term teams are sent to help with projects, train local leaders, encourage missionaries, prayer-walk the neighborhoods, teach health and hygiene classes, provide medical care, lead Bible studies, love on orphaned kids, and “share the love of Christ in practical ways.”
Summer is coming to a close, and a lot of our friends are back from their short-term mission trips. I’ve always been supportive of short-term missions (see my daughter’s post about them), but lately I’ve wondered. Did these missionaries make a difference? Did God change their hearts? Did their trips improve the lives of those they went to serve?
Our friend Bob works for Partners International, one of my favorite cross-cultural ministries. He has compiled a list of mission books that he recommends. The first two, Serving with Eyes Wide Open, by David Livermore, and When Helping Hurts, by Corbett and Fikkert, address my questions about our short-term mission efforts. I can’t wait to buy and read both of them.
Bob discusses these and other mission books on his blog. Because I know and respect his opinions, I highly recommend his list to you.
Karin at elephant god temple in Nepal
Dear Friends and Family,
- Would you contribute to my ministry trip? I’m going to the Philippines this summer.
- I need to raise $1500 to go to Afghanistan.
- My church is sending a team to the Dominican Republic to build a church building—can you help?
Yup, the letters are arriving right on schedule, as both teens and older adults are making their plans and raising prayer and financial support. We always set some money aside in our giving budget to support these short term mission efforts, partly because we believe they will make a difference in the area where they will be working, and largely because it is a life-changing experience for the fledgling missionary. There is a vast gap between hearing about the world and seeing it with your own eyes.