Thank you for sharing this! I think I'll repost on my blog. I've had the same thoughts and criticisms of short-term missions ever since I lived in Honduras and saw what it meant on the receiving end. I'm on the missions team at my church, and we've been having similar conversations. It's a hard balance to know how to promote missions but discourage people from the way we've traditionally done short-term missions in the US.
Wow! I don't even know what to say! It was a very thought provoking article. I was just telling my husband that I hoped whatever career path my children choose that it would be something they could actually use in the mission field.
I understand his points and I'm glad he makes the exception for missions where specific skills are brought in for specific purposes. I appreciated his view on how much people spend when local people can/should be hired. I also understand the sensitivity to pictures being taken. My family participates in medical missions and I know the missionaries are very sensitive to how pictures are taken. I do think he left out a benefit to the mission trips in that it helps those of us here to truly see what life is like around the world, instead of living in our own little bubbles. I know he commented on local community service, but it's not the same. I personally learn a great deal from visiting missionaries, but some people need to see it in person to truly understand. I do think maybe we should consider how mission trips are done and be more considerate of the local populations when we do them. After all, aren't we supposed to be doing these to their benefit? Thanks for sharing! --Kathy
I'm not sure I like the tone of the article. He comes across to me as quite bitter...perhaps I'm reading that into it though? I really appreciate David Platt's view of taking a vacation to go on a mission trip. It is his belief that the 2 weeks you spend in another culture, will so profoundly effect the other 50 weeks of the year and spurr you on to give more whole heartedly to long-term missions. I think it comes down to, "where is your heart?" and "why are you doing this?" This author seems to assert that, with the exception of his auto mechanic and a few others, most short termers are there to gain self-glory. If that is true, it is abominable and God will certainly judge them in their pride.But I'm not convinced that that is as common as he would make it out to be. I know many who desire nothing more than to glorify God by doing a short term trip.I do think though, that short term trips should be CAREFULLY thought out and done with up-most respect and submission to the ideas and suggestions of the long-term missionaries. A team should NEVER come into an area without much study and thought and prayer.For what it's worth, I always suggest someone read "Radical" by Platt along with "When Helping Hurts." We as Americans are far more in danger of being stingy and lazy with our time and resources than we are in danger of being generous. And I would far rather see a group of young people go do something profitable in a 3rd world country than sit on their tooshies playing video games all summer... just sayin' :)
I have to agree with much of that.
For me,the trip I took to Costa Rica opened my eyes to what I should be doing here, in my own country, in my own community. I was frustrated by the language barrier. Although our group was sensitive to it, many times I felt like the people were on display. As far as "being on vacation" I think our group really strived to not have that mind set. We were offered a side trip to the beach and declined in order to have an extra day to minister. All in all, short term trips have tere place if they help an existing ministry in that area. But I do not think making a "habit" or "career" of them is wise use of our time or talents.
wow, sure is a different way to look at mission trips!
Some longtime childhood friends of ours are missionaries at ABC in Malawi - they sold everything they had and moved there. Definitley not a vacation!
Thank you for sharing and I greatly enjoyed reading the article. I've gone on, lead, and supported short term mission trips for years and years...and did a research project on them in college. I have seen the negative side of them including the tourist picture taking, insensitivty to the culture, creating paternalism. Not to mention young people who are going for a vacation, to get away from parents, or to flirt with other young people. I have found way more success with intergenerational trips versus sending an entire youth group to Mexico. I can't tell you how many times we dealt with couple's PDA, kids goofing off the on the worksite and not being dedicated to the projects, and conflicts. There were times it soured the trip. I'd be very hesitant to send my kids on a mission trip unless they showed maturity and were doing work projects to assist missionaries and were working alongside local people esp. if the local people were in charge of the project. I'd stress they are going more as learners and helpers than "do-ers." We are in the process of starting a mission trip partnership. We are sending a team to an inner city church to help with various projects. Next summer they are sending a team to us to help us. We would not be considered inner city btw. Someone told me missions is circular--it's not sending the rich white American to the poor third countries to build houses.
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