Why Short Term Missions?

On September 25, 2012 by Eric

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?


4 Responses to “Why Short Term Missions? ”

  • Eric, I had the opportunity to join a group from my church (Bethany Baptist Church) in Grambouchi, Haiti with you as our PPM leader. It was a great experience that certainly effected me in ways that simply sending a check couldn’t have accomplished. The time I got to spend with the kids on the beach, planting trees, working on a new home and worshipping God with the community in two languages was awe inspiring. I still think about the friends I made in the community nearly every day and can’t wait to return in the future. I went in to the trip almost thinking “let me get ‘missions trip’ scratched off of my Christian to-do list”, but now I intend on making it at least a semi-regular thing. Thank you for helping to make the whole experience a great one!

    • That’s great to hear you had such an awesome experience that week. I definitely enjoyed getting to spend the week with you guys and take part in your ministry.

      Can’t wait to get back and see how the trees are doing! 🙂

  • My first and so far only mission trip was a week spent building a wall at Life is Hope Orphanage vision property. This mission, with Jim leading, opened my eyes to so much and to how great God works through his people. I am looking forward to returning to see the progress of the children’s new home..

    I did have the same question, should I just send the money? Would it help more than me showing up moving block? I am so glad you and Jean answered that question for me. I do believe it does both us Americans and the people of Haiti good to work together and become friends. God became a much bigger part of my life because of this mission trip. Life is Good!!

    • The work going on at Life is Hope is amazing! For me, and I think you’ll agree, you become so much more invested when you go and take part in the work with your own hands. From now on, those children at the orphanage will be on your radar.. and I can tell that they are from the way you said the trip was “so far” your only mission trip.

      So, when are you coming back? 🙂

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