Short term mission teams.

In my days of volunteering at a babies home I saw teams come through that were between 20-30 people.  I watched from behind the scenes as the picked up crying babies only to make them more terrified by the random stranger holding them.  Some team members would try to tell me the personality of the little ones I had known for months- “that one is soooo quiet and sweet!” I would only nod, but inside I was like “Uh, dude, if only you knew.”  Another volunteer told me that one day after helping put all the babes down for naps a team came through and took the babies out of bed. I saw team members who wore proud smiles, and I am sure, they had hearts of gold.  Positive, actually.

But the damage they were doing was beyond what they knew.

Because they didn’t know.

I watched as they picked up and took pictures with these precious children who had experienced more trauma in their short few years than many of the team members in their lives.  They didn’t know their names, they just thought they were super cute.  Then these children photos who posted to facebook, twitter, instagram- their privacy dilapidated.  These teams spent an average of  $60,000 to visit orphans and windows in their distress- but here’s the deal- do you know how many orphans and windows $60,000 would save? How much more already existing ministries could do with 60k? My. Word.

I could build an orphanage.

I could put 10 bore holes in 10 different villages providing hundreds with water.

I could feed a village of starving people for a year.

I saw an organization that prided themselves in having taken over 100,000 people on mission trips. One-hundred-thousand. That would be approximately $200,000,000 spent on visiting orphans and widows in their distress- um…that makes me sick.  Actually, it seriously makes ME distressed.

Before you go all “Matthew 28:16-20” on me let me point out that the bible also says to give everything up and follow Him. I do not believe this is what God meant in the great commission.  I do not believe it.  Who in their right mind would believe it was Godly to spend $200,000,000 on visiting people!

I recently asked someone going on a trip to Africa why they wanted to go, they told me God had made the people of America privileged and the people of Africa poor, for a perfect reason, that we may bless them and make Him known.

Um. What?  That was God’s plan?  It was God’s plan that my friends beautiful nephew would be in an orphanage because of poverty?  It was God’s plan that people would die because of starvation? It was God’s plan that mothers would watch their children die from malaria because of lack of $5 for treatment?  Hold up.  God planned all that so that we could bless them and make Him known?  I know many more ways that God could make Himself known that wouldn’t involve pain or poverty.  God could write in the clouds “Hey Africa, Jesus is alive and is coming back!” Sin entered the world, and it changed everything.  With the mindset that God made this poverty for a reason is not the way teams should be entering into Africa.

All that being said, I do believe that if short term mission trips are adequately run they might just change the world, by partnering with ministries that are already being run by God fearing people, and accepting the fact that a short 10 days in another country are not going to change the world.  If these teams could come year after year, same ministry, they will be able to leave an lasting impact, as some of the same people who have built relationships with them before, will show them that “Yes, I do care a whole heck of a lot about you, enough to travel the world once again and meet you in this place”.

Okay, I admit it, I’m guilty of going on a short term mission trip- but I’ll say this- that mission trip was the best run mission trip, our wonderful team leaders kept us in check. They prepared us in a way that all teams should be prepared, and they had a established relationship with the people we were going to work with!

Here’s the bigger question: “Well, will YOU be accepting short term teams at Yesu Asobola Ministries?”  Annnnd the answer would be YES, with a BUT.  There’s a time and a place for mission trips so that people of God will be broken by what breaks the Father’s heart. So here’s the conditions- we will work closely with the team leaders to ensure that the leadership and mindset is not off focus.  We will be having a 12-15 person limit on teams, so that we are able to better able to establish relationships and work as a whole.   We will be working and ministering, not having a vacation with orphans.

So, I don’t believe in short term mission trips, unless done properly, with the right heart, and the right prices (we estimate that a mission trip to Uganda should cost approximately $1900-2100).

If you are hoping to go on a trip in the future, consider wisely why you are going, and who is the leadership above you.

If you’re going on a mission trip, God bless you and make His face shine upon you, that they may see Him through you.  I pray that you are broken for what breaks the heart of God, and that you learn much through the poverty you will see.

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3 thoughts on “Short term mission teams.

  1. I agree that much is spent on short term missions but, how many people leave the short term mission field with a greater understanding of the needs then turn around and do just what you ask. I agree that many leave america to change the world in a week and are shocked to realize it does not happen that way. How many people go back to their churches and advocate that the Church better fund missions serving the needs you discuss.

    Yes people are ignorant, but how will they know how short sighted they are until they take the chance to see. Look at Luke 10 where Jesus sends out the 72, was Jesus plan for the 72 to Change Israel in a few days? I do not think so, but if you notice how the 72 respond, do you think this was any different than what they had heard Jesus say or saw him do? No their context was changed only after they experienced ministry hands on and it changed how they thought, in a few short days. I bet they did not do things exactly the best way or most effective, but they were changed!

    My church sends people on short term trips and I cannot speak to the impact we have had on the nation they serve, but I serve changed people here in the states now. I serve with people more passionate about how our church uses it money interms of missions, they are smarter and more focused. They have been empowered, with God’s love for a needy world. I believe the long term affect of my church’s involvement in short term missions will fund mission organizations better and smarter in the future.

    • Yes, I do agree that God can take little and make great things.

      My point was not that all mission trips should be stopped or that they are glorified vacations- but that the church needs to change the way they do missions.

      It can become a form of Christian tourism- if not careful, and it is so completely dangerous to the third world country they are venturing to. Churches need to partner with ministries in order to be effective. Of course people will be changed when they step beyond their comfort zone, but they need to be sure that they are not trampling over the customs of the country they are serving.

      Hopefully that makes sense… I know there are well run short term mission trips out there, but I have experienced a handful of mission trips coming through Uganda who are not aware of the culture and the pain that is experienced in every day life there.

      God bless ya’ll as you serve- I love seeing people empowered to love the needy and forgotten. :o)

  2. We need to remember that missionary work isn’t about changing who WE are, it’s about helping others so that they can see the love of Jesus at work. I won’t say that God cannot use whatever He chooses to break our hearts, but my guess is that He wouldn’t want us to be poor stewards of money to get there…

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