It seems to me that many short-term mission trips are problematic for a number of reasons. Let me give a few off the top of my head;
1) Service missions are a waste of money that could have been used to hire local workers to do many of the jobs much better. I don’t understand why we spend thousands of dollars to send unskilled workers, often teenagers, when we could give jobs to local workers who actually know what they are doing for less money.
2) The false implicit assumption seems to be that missions and service need to be done somewhere other than within our own communities and to our own neighbors.
3) It reinforces the dynamic of impoverished people needing to be taken care of and saved by affluent, (typically white) Americans. Instead of empowering others and standing beside them as equals, a hierarchy develops even under the guise of service.
4) People gain an undue sense of their own goodness and the ‘impact’ or ‘difference’ that they made in other people’s lives. This also perpetuates the false belief that poverty is not an issue that should be addressed in the public sphere because charity is good enough to handle it.
5) While exposing people to poverty is a good thing, the lack of ongoing relationships does not actually improve people’s awareness of the reality of poverty. You often end up with affluent people who falsely think they understand the experience of poverty and the issues surrounding it.
6) The people being served are dehumanized as objects that we get to feel bad for, show compassion toward, feel love at, etc… They exist to make us feel like good Christians. How many people end up taking pictures of locals as if they are tourist attractions? Wouldn’t you find it weird if strangers went through your neighborhood and started taking pictures of you or your kids?
We’ve turned The Great Commission into something that is nothing more than an expensive vacation for church people. If God has called you to missions, then do mission work. But don’t do mission work for a week, come back to your home and share about how much you loved it and can’t wait to go back next year. Just go do it.
Lately, I have really felt called by God to do Urban Ministry. I’m applying to Transfer to Moody Bible Institute next fall, it’s in Chicago, Illinois and has one of the best Urban Ministry programs in the nations (or so I hear). I’m only about a year away from getting a BA from Shawnee, and if I transfer to Moody, it will add at least 3 more years unto my undergraduate. However, I completely feel called to do Urban Ministry and I feel like Moody is just the place to equip me to do just that. And in an area such as Chicago, I believe it offers me the best opportunities to do urban mission work while I’m still in school.
However, if my transfer to Moody doesn’t go through, I’m thinking I may still graduate Shawnee with an associates this coming spring and either save a bunch of money and move to Chicago, or just move to Chicago right away and start doing urban ministry work there. I was asked today what my plans were or what organization I’d work with, and I honestly don’t know. I just know that this is where God has called me, and I’m more than happy to live in a ratty old apartment in the worse part of Chicago if it means doing Gods will.
So if you have any suggestions for organizations I should look into (doesn’t just have to be Chicago), feel free to let me know! All the help is appreciated!
And I just want to show them how much he loves us. I can’t wait for the day where my schooling does not effect how I can show the love of Christ to others. Recently, I’ve been looking into an organization called Orphan Outreach. They go on mission trips to 3rd world countries and teach in orphanages and minister to the children, children who have no earthly parents and have never felt the love of a family. I work at a Christian camp with kids between the ages of 7 -12 and it’s awesome, don’t get me wrong. But I think it would be something completely different to work with those kids who don’t just go somewhere for a week, they actually live at the orphanages. Its not just a get away.
Just thinking about spending months in the Dominican Republic, teaching children how to speak English, reading them the bible, teaching them about God, showing them how much God cares for them, all of it! I want to be apart of their backpack donation drive next semester and do it at Shawnee. It’s where we would collect backpacks and school supplies for the children in the other countries who can’t afford them any other way. Something so small like backpacks and pencils we take for granted.
I think working with them will help me a lot with not only getting a job here working with teens who are abused, addicted to drugs, and struggling, but also help me help them. I wish I could find a Christian organization that deals with social work things, but I can’t seem to find one. I found an organization called centerstone that offers a lot of the stuff i want to do, but it isn’t Christian I’m afraid, but that’s okay, it may be a way to spread the gospel to people who haven’t heard it before.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. – John 14:18