Short Term Missionaries

DSC_0398I am a strong supporter of Short Term mission trips.  Without going on a Short Term Trip, I would not be a missionary today.  I think young people should all experience a short term trip.

That being said. There are beneficial short term trips and others that are glorified vacations. I’ve heard reports from some who talk about the sights, the swimming, the safari, etc….

I’ve heard others who spend all their time criticizing the locals for doing things in a way that seems backwards to their home culture. They come to “serve” but really they want to “change” things.

There needs to be an attitude change in many short term trips. Come to learn, to serve, to minister to the nationals and to the missionaries. Did you know that the epistles list names of people that were sent from churches to support Paul on his journey.  We need people to come and minister to us.

That being said, sometimes I’ve felt judged by visitors. They judge the fact that I have a cook and gardener. These are cultural norms in this place that I live.  I’ve had some call them slaves, they are employees and we are helping them in their lives.  Currently I employ a local pastor who gets little from his church and a single mother of 6.

Then there are the Short Term Missionaries who come for 6 months to a Year. They learn more than the 6 week team. They get involved in the local culture. But they also think they know it all and judge how the long term missionaries do things. They want to pay more for day laborers on projects and don’t seek advice. Now they are gone and we are left trying to get work done on our limited budget when they raised the minimum wage bar around here.

We need not get frustrated at these people, but be patient. We also need to encourage them to study the language and culture. To listen to those that have been around and watch and observe. We may have gotten stuck in a rut and their new point of view could be good, but only when presented in Love.

When I send a packing list of what not to wear and what to bring, I hope they would actually read it all and make notes and try to follow it.  I’ve had people come in clothing that offends the nationals. I have had others come with so little clothing that they raid my dresser often. I’ve had some come with half empty-suitcases when I had lists of things like chocolate chips to bring out.  (God give me patience,)

I’ve had guests that blessed me and others that were all stress. I’ve had teams that fought amongst themselves while others prayed with me. I’ve gone in the hole with some teams financially and others have left me a thank-you gift.

I could go on and on, but it is a paradox between the value and the frustrations of short term teams.  Yet I will keep recruiting each time I’m on furlough. I will pray with them and lead Bible studies, hoping that one day some of them may want to be missionaries too.