If I had written this post two years ago, the title probably would have been, “Why Short-Term Mission Trips Are Of the Devil and You Should Never Ever Go On Them.” Catchy, right?
And also a little inaccurate, I think.
Me in Mexico. Interesting that there are lots of photos of me painting, cleaning, speaking, and performing dramas on mission trips, but none with me actually interacting with people.
Let me explain: I’ve been on short-term mission trips, four to an inner-city kids’ ministry every Spring Break during high school, one to Mexico to run a VBS and do work projects, and one to Indianapolis my sophomore year of college to help with another kids’ ministry.
That last one was where I broke a little. Here are these kids, who have lived a life of people leaving them, and you want us to go in, spend seven days getting to know them and telling them they’re special, and then leave?
No, thank you. I’ll be over here scrubbing mold out of the freezer, cleaning the toilets, and organizing the library. (That’s completely what I did pretty much the whole trip. No joke.)
I came back thinking that short-term mission trips did more harm than good. Jesus told us to love our neighbors, not to go somewhere else and love other Christians’ neighbors for a few days before leaving again. (This was very similar to my “TOMS shoes are evil and a terrible model for a charity” phase.)
On the back it says, “…and then I will leave you again and go back to the U.S.” (Just kidding. That would be the worst mission trip T-shirt ever.)
There are lots of reasons why I changed my mind, but the most important was that I realized who my neighbor was. (more…)