Sinister Tips for Mission Trips
Image: Jonathan Assink / Flickr

This summer, many of us will head out on short-term mission trips, spending anywhere from a week to a couple of months serving in a developing country with members of our church or para-church group. This summer, I plan to help lead a group from InterVarsity to a village where our organization Mayan Partners works in Guatemala.

For many of us, this will be one of the great highlights of the year, despite the challenges of working in difficult circumstances. Many will experience culture shock, argue with teammates about what we should be doing, and/or spend one or more days lying in bed with diarrhea. Missions work in a foreign country opens the door to a variety of trials and temptations that exceed those in the relative comfort of everyday life.

No one more famously wrote about temptation than C. S. Lewis in his classic novel The Screwtape Letters. This past November marked 50 years since the passing of Lewis and has been accompanied by numerous commemorations, including the present one.

I began to write a short piece on tips for mission trips from the perspective of a development economist. But upon settling in to write, I was interrupted by a series of cryptic e-mail messages that appeared in my Gmail inbox. Initially perceiving them to be an annoying barrage of spam, I nearly deleted them. Upon a closer investigation, I found them to be written in an ominous red font, indeed appearing to be a list of tips for mission trips—from the Other Side...

from: sr_diablo@hell.net
to: lucifrito@sector6.mex
date: March 15 subject: Alert and Re-deployment

My Dearest Lucifrito,

Word has reached our office from the North American command that a despicable little team of pimpled teenagers—and the adult buffoons ...

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Sinister Tips for Mission Trips
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June 2014

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