Why Short Term Missions?
Sometimes, I have this thought: why go on a short term mission trip? As Christians, we are certainly called to have both a local and global perspective with respect to spreading the gospel, making disciples, etc… but with all the time, money, and energy required to go, are short term mission trips really a worthwhile use of our resources?
Looking for answers to this question, I decided to get another perspective. While in Les Caye, Haiti earlier this summer I had a conversation on this very subject with Jean Delcy, one of the Haitian pastors PPM partners with (pictured left). My question to him was basically this: do you, or any of the pastors you know, ever feel like you’d rather just have a check as opposed to a mission team?
His reply was that yes, there are some pastors who would sometimes rather just have the money. However, this is the rare case. His opinion, which is also shared by most of the pastors he knows, is that an American church joining together with a Haitian church to share in the work of Christ has benefits that far outweigh any impact a lump sum of money could do. It has an impact beyond just the week of ministry, often completely changing lives of both cultures.
In talking with Jean Delcy, I began to think back to my first mission trip to Belize in 2008. To put it simply, that trip was the catalyst for radical change in the direction of my life. Had I just sent a check for $1500 to a church in Belize, I don’t believe I would be anywhere near as involved in the work God is doing on a global scale.
So, why short term missions? Because, when done successfully, it has the potential to radically change lives in ways a check cannot. Writing a check doesn’t open your eyes to the fact that God is at work in Haiti in the same way he is at work in Arkansas. It doesn’t provide an opportunity for your assumptions about another culture to be broken down. And it doesn’t give you realization that, although we are surrounded by blessings we often take for granted, our lives are often missing some of the simplest joys that come from true relationships and Christian fellowship.
For those of you who have been involved in short-term mission trips, whether on the sending or receiving end, what was your experience? Was it worthwhile?