Listening to: Men at Work

Reading: Lonely Planet Australia East Coast Guide

Writing About: Mission Trips, Travel

So, I led a mission trip to a rich country:
Australia is the 15th richest country in the world, Washington Post called it the 6th best country to live in. People from all over the world go there to vacation. It is fantastic and beautiful.  And I helped plan and lead a mission trip there. And I don’t feel bad about that at all.

Mission Trips – My Job:
You may know that I am a missions pastor, it’s a great job.
Trips are a major part of what I do.
And they are complicated.
We know we are called to “GO”
It also seems very clear that we are called to work among the poor
My missions team has been struggling for years with the ideas represented in books like When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity.
(I have talked about this before in two posts on short-term trips  here  and here )

We are trying to find ways to engage in foreign missions that are healthy and productive for our people and the host countries that we visit.
And it is complicated.
John Wesley advised us: First, Do No Harm.
And we take that seriously.
This post isn’t really about that, though.
This post is about how I ended up organizing a mission trip to Australia.

The Upside-Down (Under)
Everyone who has ever been on a foreign mission trip says:
“It really helped me more than the people I went to serve”
That is not hyperbole, literally everyone says that.

The Australia trip just leaned into that fact.
Instead of trying to do amateurish work that our gracious and brilliant hosts are perfectly capable of,
we decided to do a job that we were uniquely gifted for.
In ways that honored and strengthened long-term relationships.
In a location that suited that work.
Even if it looked funny and put us in a luxurious location.
On paper, it’s all very backwards. “Mission Trip to Australia”

So What Exactly Did We Do?:
The Australia trip was really two trips sewn together.
Our team helped lead a conference for young adults called L10 ( #L10conf )
This was all well and good.  There are a lot of great reasons this work made sense for us and our team fit well with the work they were doing.
But the conference didn’t need us in any way
(it was our pleasure to benefited us more than them!)
Anyway, L10 was really just an excuse to do the work I fell in love with:
We went to take care of missionaries.

Crosspoint supports missionaries all over the globe.
We have been working hard to forge true and deep partnerships with “our” missionaries.
We want to offer more than just monthly checks!
So, we invited them to meet us “half way” for a Missionary Retreat
Hosted by Crosspoint, for their benefit.
We traveled 28 hours, so that they would only have to travel 4 or 5.
We paid for their stay at a camp near the beach.
We brought our friends at The Soul Care Project  to help with some personal and spiritual “best practices” and facilitate great and meaningful discussion.
We provided child care and let missionaries have fun.
The women got hair cuts and went out for coffee.
The men hiked and surfed.
Everyone talked, and prayed together.
We offered encouragement, we listened.
And we built relationships.

I truly believe that our two week trip to Australia will bear more fruit than most any short-term trip I have ever lead.
We invested in front line workers, and that matters over the long-term!
I couldn’t be more excited about what we did.
It was unabashedly, unashamedly Mission.
And it was important.

Onward: To More Beautiful, Affordable Resort Destinations!
We will always lead short-term trips to resource-poor countries.
That will never stop.
We will continue to search ways to partner in ways that do the most good on the ground and empower local people.

And, for as long as I am the missions pastor
We will continue to invite our missionaries to beautiful, easy places.
We will offer rest, and love, and deep relationships to long-term workers.
We will be pastors to missionaries.
God willing, someone will get a professional massage at our next retreat.
And that will matter, for the Kingdom!