Short Term Missions – To Go or Not To Go

The Very Worst Missionary. Hers is one of the handful of blogs I consistently read. I don’t always share her opinions, and truthfully, sometimes she makes me blush. But I appreciate her candidness and the way she loves Jesus and people.

A while back the VWM had several blog posts regarding the downside of short-term missions. She had some valid, thought-provoking points, including the following –

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Poor people aren’t stupid people. Poor people aren’t less perceptive. Poor people aren’t always pleased to be living what we deem “simple lives”. And don’t you dare fool yourself into believing that poor people aren’t making the exact same lifestyle comparisons you are.

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The VWM is not on a mission to end short-term missions. In fact, she mentions in one of her posts that short-term missions changed her life. But she did get me thinking a lot about the people on the other side of short-term missions trips.
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They really are just people like you and me. L. Fluery wasn’t there when God made the decision to place him in a house “made of tarps” in the middle of Haiti, just like I wasn’t there when He decided to place me in a middle-class home in the middle of the midwestern US. VWM’s perspective on the ills of failing to take into serious consideration the people we will be ministering to and how they may perceive us makes a lot of sense to me.
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I’ve been on two short-term missions trips. The first was to Mexico when I was 17. I can honestly say one of the only things I remember about that trip is the toilet rule – “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”  Sad. I know.
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My second short-term trip was to Haiti. And that trip changed my life. How do I know? Because I’ve spent only 11 of my approximately 13,000 days on this earth there, yet I think about the country almost daily. I pray for Jean Jacques, who was six when I met him. (He’s now in his early 20s.) I pray for Lucson and Pierre, whose pictures are hanging in my boys’ bedroom. And I get really excited about the thought of coordinating efforts to send dresses and shorts to the children there through Mission-to-Haiti . Regardless of whether I ever make it back to Haiti or not, I’m confident I will continue to support ministry there, and it’s all because of a short-term missions trip.
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So tell me, did a short-term mission trip change your life? Or do you have an example of a short-term trip that wasn’t such a great experience? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment, and if you have a missions organization you are passionate about, post a link so I can check it out.
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