Thursday, May 19, 2011

Unintentional Consequences - Don't Get Me Wrong

As I've been writing about the unintentional consequences that short term missionaries have caused, I understand that I may sound like a disgruntled naysayer who only points out the faults of others.  You might think I'm an armchair quarterback.  I look at it more as a "Monday Morning Debriefing".  I'm a huge fan of learning from others' mistakes, in order to avoid as many "Ouchies!" as possible.  I'm just trying to figure this stuff out and this is my place to think out loud and process my thoughts..

Please hear me.  I am not saying that short-term mission trips are bad.  I am not saying we should just forget the whole thing and stay home in our nice comfortable churches.  It's really quite the opposite.

I think short-term mission trips can be a good thing and very worthwhile.  If done right, I'm sure short-term missionaries can work alongside long-term missionaries to accomplish big goals and have meaningful interaction with the locals.  In some cases, short term missions are necessary.  For instance, medical mission trips and emergency assistance/disaster relief trips provide acute care for an immediate problem.  I have been the thankful recipient of "just the right help at just the right time" more times than I can count.  I believe people can touch others' lives in a profound way in a moment just by being the one who cares and helps in a crisis.

But I also believe that long term life-change takes long-term commitment and personal involvement.  A complicated problem cannot be fixed in a jiffy.  It requires sacrifice, time, and hard work.  You must invest your life into other peoples' lives if you want to make a difference.  There is no short-cut.  There will be a personal cost.  Your hands might get dirty.  You might be in over your head.

But it will be worth it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is:  For any kind of "help" to be helpful, you must empty yourself of pride and lay aside your agenda.  Submit to those who have a better understanding than you do.  Be teachable.  Prepare your heart to serve - even if that means not doing what you were hoping to do.  Be ready to die to yourself so that Christ may live in you. 

Then take a  deep breath.  Jump in.  Do something.

Blessings to you,

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