Into All the World: Volume 2, Issue 6

Are Short-term Mission Trips Effective?

By David Peach

David Peach, Director of Deaf MinistriesMany missionaries on the field today give the testimony that God called them to the field as the result of a mission trip. I too can point to very specific direction God gave and decisions I made because of short-term trips. Therefore, I certainly believe there is value in taking mission trips. However, not every mission trip is beneficial. Some can create unintentional burdens.

Benefit: God can call new missionaries through a short-term trip

As already stated, many missionaries point back to a particular trip that God used to give them a burden for the people they are reaching today. Even if they don’t return to the same country they previously visited, God has used mission trips in the lives of many missionaries to give them direction.

Missionary Highlight
Jeremy and Ling M.

Substitute for Jeremy MPlease pray for Jeremy and Ling. They are working as church planters in an area of the Far East that has many unreached peoples.

Jeremy and Huang Ling have taken many trips into the highlands of their province in order to minister to the Miao (mee-ow) people. The Miao ethnic minority has a population of more than seven million. This forms one of the largest ethnic minorities in their country. Even though they are one of the largest minority groups, many of the Miao are categorized as least reached by Joshua Project. My son, John, and I had the privilege to accompany Jeremy and Ling to a Miao village. I was blessed to preach there. These people have a special place in my heart. Please pray for the work of the Gospel among them.

Jeremy and Huang Ling are on furlough. They need to raise more support. Please contact them and invite them to present in your church.

Missionary Quote

“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets”¬†— William Borden

Burden: Unrealistic view of missionary life

When you are holding a return-trip ticket in your hand, you cannot fully grasp the pressures of life on the mission field. A mission trip intentionally is very focused and planned. However, real life on the field is often very unfocused and frustrating. One of the jokes among missionaries is that if you have a to-do list with 20 items on it, you have had a productive day if you can scratch one item from your list. A short-term trip doesn’t always give a realistic view of what missionaries face on the field.

Benefit: Short-term trips raise awareness of the need

Many times people will return home from a trip and become more burdened for missions and witnessing to those around them. Maybe God doesn’t call that person to the field as a full-time missionary, but He will use the experience to help the person see how they can financially or prayerfully support missions in a greater way.

Burden: Mission trips can create dependence

A team of 20 teenagers can swarm into a town and create a lot of excitement for an activity. People will come to the event and a local church will minister in a greater way than they normally do. Yet, the same local church on the field may think that they are not able to do any ministry without the help of the foreign team. Or, worse, the church people become so dependent on the money and labor that an American church can provide that the local church members choose not to do any work for themselves.

Benefit: Large projects can be completed

One missionary working alone is limited in what he can accomplish in a week. However, a team of 15 people can do many man-hours of work in a short amount of time. Need to paint a building? Pass out thousands of tracts? These types of projects can be completed with a mission team in a fraction of the time it takes a missionary to do the task alone.

Benefit: Encouragement for the missionary

Even though hosting a mission team is very time consuming and draining physically, it can be a tremendous encouragement for the missionary and his family. Teams usually arrive with delicious chocolate, extra money, and an ability to understand the jokes that the missionary has been waiting a year to tell. Even with all the work involved, most missionaries love having visitors.

Burden: A glorified vacation

Unfortunately, there are mission trips that are no more than a vacation package organized by a church. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking a vacation, but don’t call it a mission trip if it only serves to make you feel better about your missions involvement. Spending a week at a resort in a foreign country is not a missionary effort.

When looking at a short-term mission trip, you should consider the purpose of the trip and whether the work you are trying to do might be better accomplished by the local church members. Trips should be used to bring honor and glory to God and to advance His kingdom. Don’t be guilty of taking a trip for your own benefit without considering the burdens that can be created from such an excursion.

Missionary Humor

“I’m reminded of the most special gifts ever sent over to a bereft Tennessee missionary. We hadn’t been over here [Japan] but a few months when I complained to my best friend back in Tennessee that I couldn’t get root beer anywhere. God bless ‘im! He sent a whole box of root beer over. I got the note from the P. O. to come pick it up, and my poor heart was all a flutter.

Now the problem was that the Japanese culture, as rich as it is, has no knowledge whatever of root beer. So at the P. O. they slapped an alcohol surcharge on my box of root beer. And I had just started language study–certainly didn’t know enough to explain root beer to a stern customs man! So now I had a moral dilemma. Do I pay alcohol tax for root beer, or do I refuse the shipment? More importantly, would my supporting churches ever find out??? Did I pay the tax and take the root beer? You’ll never know! (Man was it good, though!).” — BWM Missionary John Himes

This entry was posted in Into All The World. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.