Don’t Paint the Orphanage

Thank you for this needed article. I was raised overseas, the child of missionaries, and I have been on short-term mission trips as an adult. One of the primary issues with mission trips is the terminology. Mission is how we live our daily lives, not something we do for a specific, limited period of time on a trip in another country. Are churches and donors willing to donate funds for youth cross-cultural ministry exposure trips, not just ‘mission trips’? If they care about youth being on mission, they should!

I was excited when I saw the cover story was about short-term mission trips. But when I finished the article, I was disappointed. It seems like, in your view, all that’s left is exposure trips and compassion tourism. Really? I still think short-term mission trips can bless people in faraway places, but it really helps if skilled people are involved and serious prior planning is done.

We all see that just sending money fails. Short-term teams bring accountability to the receiving of gifts. So does going back to the same place for several years in a row. When accountability is provided, development continues to happen.

The assertion that the apostles are biblical examples of “short-term missionaries” is weak exegesis at best. The best New Testament example of short-term mission is Epaphroditus mentioned in Philippians who visited Paul to aid in his ministry. Using him as a benchmark, biblical short-term mission should in one way or another further the goals of the long term missionaries involved.

Having served as a missions pastor for nearly 30 years, I was both surprised and disappointed that in a very long and what should have been a thorough article there is ...

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