Monday, August 8, 2011

Camp’s Over

I know there has been a lot of conversation about the value of short-term mission work.  The very first short-term mission trip I took was heavily criticized - by a member of my church - as a waste of time and money.  It could easily be argued (and it often is) that the money used to send short-term missionaries all over the world could be much better spent by just giving it to the native Christians for their work.  There is some truth to that; but, any consideration that focuses primarily on the financial aspect of such mission work will come up short.

So, how much can be done in a one or two week mission effort?  Well, I have personally seen buildings built, classes taught, people’s hearts changed, and lasting friendships begun through these short-term works.  So, those who are seeking for tangible benefits from short-term mission trips can find them pretty easily.  There are other benefits, too. 

One of them is the gospel passion that short-term missionaries take home to their sending churches.  Most pastors I know would give their right arms if the majority of their members would begin to see themselves as sent people.  Reporting short-term missionaries can convey this truth in ways that pastors never could.  After all, my pastor is paid to say stuff like that to me and I can tune it out pretty effectively.  But when the lady who sits next to my family in Sunday School comes back from her mission trip on fire for what Jesus is doing in Ecuador, I have a much harder time dismissing the message. 

Another benefit is that God frequently uses these short-term missions to call people into full time mission work.  We are living proof of that.