Are YOU wondering what to do with your summer vacation? Maybe considering a mission trip but not sure whether it's REALLY worth the money? After all, there are a lot of arguments against spending a few hundred or even a couple thousand dollars on a trip galavanting around the globe.
And that's just money. There's also the time spent preparing and fundraising and traveling. And there's the jet lag and maybe time away from your family.
There are plenty of arguments about cost and value
I don't think time spent in preparation or prayer is ever wasted. It's always an investment.
Frankly, there are a lot of arguments either way. But, let's think for a moment – what are some of the arguments against spending a lot of money on a short-term trip?
- Maybe it really doesn't accomplish anything worthwhile
- Maybe there are other needs “back home” that you could meet with that money
- Maybe you're just scratching that travel itch
- Maybe it's not REALLY worth the time it takes
- Maybe you're distracting rather than helping
- Maybe your “help” interferes with what God is already doing
For a really good understanding of how cross-cultural ministries can do more harm than good (and how to prepare so that yours doesn't), I recommend When Helping Hurts.It's available on Amazon.com or you can get the audio version absolutely free.
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On the other hand, there are some strong arguments for taking a short-term mission trip.
- You might experience other cultures
- You might meet new people
- Other people might notice
- Your heart might be changed
- You might develop a habit of service
Those are all things to consider. But those are all “maybe” kinds of things. They're things that might happen. So, for me, it's hard to figure out what to do with them. Some of the answers are pretty straightforward but maybe the answers don't really yield a worthwhile response.
Are missions trips expensive? Yes (sometimes). But is that a bad thing? I mean, after all, Jesus praised a prostitute who “wasted” a year's wages on His feet. Didn't he?
I need it to be simple
I guess maybe I need things to be really simple. And this is one that really has to be simple for me. And I mean, simple in terms of, “Should I go?” and simple in terms of, “Is it worth it?”
So, do you believe God is calling (or leading, depending on how you use language) to go on a mission trip? If so, pray, get counsel, and make plans to go. Full Stop.
Update: Caleb‘s comment reminded me of something I intended to put in this but forgot.
If you read When Helping Hurts (and I recommend you do), you'll discover that there are often complexities that we don't understand as outsiders. And that we often carry with us what I call the “Great White Hope” syndrome.
So, when you go, listen to your leaders and the people who are already ministering. Do what they say. Don't do what they tell you not to do. They probably know what's going on better than you.
And you're there to serve God by serving them.
And, if you're not sure but you really want to go on a mission trip, take it to God. Ask Him why you want to go on a trip. Maybe He'll reveal that He's put that desire there. Maybe He'll reveal the purpose behind the trip. Maybe He'll show you that you really shouldn't go on a trip.
How about these questions of value?
And, if you're wondering if it's worth the time and money that goes into it, I have some questions for you:
- If only one person sees the love of God, is it worth it?
- If only one life transformed, is it worth it?
- If only one family has food or shelter, is it worth it?
- If only one person at work (or school) learns of your love for Christ, is it worth it?
- If only one person has the opportunity to invest in the Kingdom of God, is it worth it?
- If all that comes out of a trip is one simple act of obedience, is it worth it?
- If all that comes out of a trip is more time in prayer, is it worth it?
- If all that comes out of a trip is a stronger sense of God's presence, is it worth it?
I think it is.
So, if you believe God is calling you to a missions trip, go in peace. Prepare well. Listen and learn. And trust that God will accomplish all that He plans to accomplish, whether you ever see it or not.
On the other hand, if you believe God would have you stay home and invest time and money in your neighbors, do that. Be free to follow Him in His calling.
After all, if your heart is for God and His Kingdom, the mission field is wherever you are.
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