In recent years there have been a surge in short-term Christian Missions trips that often seem more like an adventure vacation than an actual missions trip. Raising thousands of dollars to go and do Christian missions to the Bahamas or Fiji certainly sounds like a donor sponsored vacation. What a scam! Or is it? Years ago missionaries went to beautiful places only to be buried a few months after they arrived. Knowing that suffering and death were a real possibility, the had to weigh their desire for adventure, beautiful scenery, their commitment to Christ and sharing the Gospel, and the cost in terms of their lives.
In today’s short-term missions activities, laying down one’s life for the Gospel is highly unlikely, and yes the surroundings can be beautiful, but the missions work can be exhausting and hard. Have you ever been to Africa? Have you seen the plains and valleys of Kenya? Phenomenal scenery, gorgeous landscape, and old cemeteries filled with missionaries. Some went to Africa for a few weeks, others for a lifetime.
Mixed motives can always get in the way of Christian service. Whether in your home country or overseas, missionaries can sometimes feel guilty that their desire to share the Gospel is also mixed with their craving for adventure. Every missionary is guilty of it. If they weren’t filled with some sense of adventure, they wouldn’t be a foreign missionary! God can use the mixed motives of man to accomplish His purposes. It is not for us to judge for God knows the heart. And through short-term missions trips, God will work not only through a person but also in their own life. Many missionaries today can testify that they may have had some desire to escape from their current job, had a desire for adventure, sought to be stretched spiritually, or went into missions due to outside pressures.
If it takes a “missionary vacation” or an “adventure missions trip” to get Christians away from their televisions, computers, cell phones and other distractions of the modern age, then great! They will see and experience things that they never would have otherwise and their lives will be altered in some way. Will they make a big impact? Probably not. But that is why it is short-term. It has a minimal impact for yes, a lot of money, but do you know that most modern day missionaries did some kind of short-term missions trip before they committed to career missions? It is a new thing that God is doing and let’s work with Him and not against Him. Encourage short-term missions regardless of the motives. Leave that up to the Lord to sort through.
10 reasons why short-term missions trips are effective:
1. The person who is going will have an impact upon the place where they are going. Some kind of positive impact.
2. Donors will learn something new about the destination location as well as the person going.
3. Some prayer support will follow the person to the foreign country. Prayer always has an impact.
4. If a person is acting in obedience to God, He will be pleased.
5. Blessings abound for those who not only go, but also send.
6. The money given to send someone probably would have been spent on frivolous other things.
7. Short-term missions experiences can lead to long-term service in missions.
8. Going to a foreign country makes you more appreciative as a whole.
9. It gets people out of their comfort zones. Are you in yours?
10. Short-term missionaries can reinvigorate long-term missionaries by bringing in new enthusiasm for the work resulting in new inspiration and vision.