I am a little discouraged today.
I spent some time reading the blog reports of a short-term mission trip to a foreign country. I have also, in my trips to the US, been a part of missions emphasis worship services where stories of trips to a foreign country were told. It’s always the same thing.
Most of the time is spent talking about how different the place was, how scary traffic was, how weird the food was, and how poor the people are. The conclusion is nearly always how blessed “we” are, and we don’t realize it.
I’ve taken the time to write down all of the ministry item that were done on these one-week trips. I get discouraged when I list them out.
- We picked up trash for a few hours.
- We held sick babies for a few hours.
- We played with the kids for a few hours.
- We helped build something for a few hours/days.
- We passed out tracts because we couldn’t speak to them in their language.
- We gave vitamins and eye-glasses to people.
- We had a worship services with the natives.
Brothers, we need to do better than this. If this is what you are doing, just don’t go. Or, at the very least, learn 25 significant Bible narratives by heart and tell them all, daily and repetitively while you do those things. When people respond, lead them to Jesus, get them baptized and help them either join or start a church before you go home.
I rarely hear church presentations of recent short-term mission trips where people report that:
- They stayed in the homes of non-Christians instead of hotels.
- They spent their time with one family and ministering with and through that family for the duration of the trip.
- They told and taught others to tell significant portions of scripture narrative.
- They had a significant plan to overcome the language barrier.
- They prayed and overcame Satanic strongholds.
- They baptized new believers and got them celebrating the Lord’s Supper together as a church.
- They and the new believers suffered persecution for the baptisms and conversions.
- They came back with more harvest stories than culture shock stories.
- They came back with a clear vision of the next steps.
I can think of one or two churches that are getting there. They learn from their experiences, both failures and successes and move forward. They are relentless, like Paul was.