listening to: Death Cab For Cutie

Reading: Lord of the Flies (seriously, the book I am reading on a plane opens with a plane crash)
Writingi about: Ministry, travel, Mission

Some things you may not know about Mission Trips:

  • Churches love them (especially foreign trips)
  • Participants tend to have deeply moving experiences
  • There is an ongoing healthy discussion in mission circles about their positive and negative impact on hosts and participants
  • I am writing this post from one

The “Pros” of short term foreign trips:

  • Participants get experience with foreign cultures
  • Participants sometimes get a sense of global poverty and their own wealth/privelage
  •  Participants are challenged and encouraged in their faith
  • Participants get a chance to be ministers, and do ministry
  • Participants sometimes get inspired to make concrete changes in their “regular” lives
  • Hosts get real-life exposure and raise awareness
  • Hosts get some task (physical or relational) worked on
  • Money: Hosts often (rightly) get some financial benefit
    Hosts also frequently employ nationals to guide/translate/cook.etc.
  • Jesus told us to (Kind of, flying somewhere for a week is not in the King James version)

The “Cons” of short term foreign mission trips:

  • The “resources dedicated” to “concrete benefit” ratio is often very low
  • Short term teams can be culturally oblivious and obnoxious, perhaps even hindering the work of host agencies
  • “Us to Them / savior mentality” serving creates power dynamics that don’t benefit host agencies and don’t challenge participants
  • Like many mountaintop/ecstatic experiences, the inspired changes often fade away before taking root
  • Short Term teams run the danger of hindering the host community’s ability to build capacity and create self-guided sustainable change.

You Drew the line, now take your side:

This is a Blog.
If you’re still here after 250 words
with no pictures or jokes,
you are probably looking for an opinion.
my opinion.
So here it is:

A-B /  dualistic thinking rarely creates good outcomes
The “This or That” mindset is a fine starting point,
it is great at outlining the issues.
But it is a stupid destination.
So I won’t be going there.

Better Questions:

Let’s replace:
Are Short Term Trips Good or Bad?

With some of these:
How can we do this well?
What do we (participants) offer, what do we lack?
What is God doing in the place I am going?
Why am I going to that place?

Call it what it is:

I speak no Spanish,
I have no construction training.
Yet, here I am, humbly offering my enthusiasm

I am a spiritual tourist

I love my host organization,
I love the work they did before we arrived
I love the opportunity they extend to me
to observe and even partner in it.
I love the work they will do after I am gone.

Our host agency charged us with:
Looking for the richness of God around us while we are here
Saying as many uplifting and encouraging things as we can

I believe I am capable of that.
And I appreciate the opportunity to try it.

“Buh-Wayn-Ohs   No-Chaze, Vie-uh Cohn  Dee Ohs!”