Saturday, November 12, 2011

mission thoughts

Missions thoughts

We have a wonderful missions program at our church.  We are involved in many many organizations.  Maybe too many.  The only criticism that I hear of our missions is that we may be an inch deep and a mile wide.

Internationally we are involved in Jamaica, Russia, Guatemala, Haiti, Liberia, and Mozambique at least.  Every time we send someone on a trip to one of these places, we collect or they give a bunch of money to pay for their travel.  They go for ten days and then come back, changed, sort of.  We hope.

Here are some questions that I am asking myself.  What are the long term changes that take place in someone that goes on a mission trip?  What are the long term results that we leave behind in the country we visit? 

In talking to my Priest friend in Belize, he said, “don’t send me ten people to help with the work here for a week.  I just have to spend my time taking care of them.  I interrupts my work and besides we have plenty of volunteers in our parish.  Take the money that you were going to use to send them here, and send us a check instead.”

I have a thought.  What if we had a one year moratorium on trips.  What if we could collect all of the money that we would have used to send people on trips for that year.  Use that money to buy a place in some needy part of the world.  Maybe it’s a help center in Jamaica, maybe it’s a food kitchen in Haiti- I don’t know.  But then, we man it with our people.  You go there for 30 days at a time, or less if you need to. 

There would never be any questions about how the money was used to operate the place because it would be our people operating it.  We would build a long term presence in the community.  It would not preclude others, but would become the main focus of our mission work.  Long term relationships.  Long term results.  Just thinking out loud.

It’s a beautiful day in God’s  world, be sure to see the good.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that be like starting a church? After all, that is what a church does, builds long term relationships.

Glenda A said...

Amen!

Anonymous said...

I think that the question you raise is a good one, but full of other questions that WCC planners need to discuss. Specific exerpts from your post raise the following questions.

From the priest: "we have plenty of volunteers right here in our own parish." Are the best people to minister to locals, the locals themselves? And if so, do we need to put even more of our energies and resources in the needs in our own city or state or other regions of the U. S. where disaster strikes? A pastors wife commented this week that "I'm am so overboard in church activities, that I don't have time to get to know and help my neighbors on the block.

Your question: "What are the long term results from the trips we take." There are many worthwhile international outreach groups, who reach out to the world's needy, full time. It's what they do and they have become experts at helping where it really helps and lifts children up for their future." How about researching the ones where the money primarily goes to the work being done, and support such an organization, rather than trying to be good at this ourselves?

Your question "What if we took all the money we collect all the money we would have used, to send people for trips for that year." I increasingly see a need for those who plan WCC's strategies, to think about how many types of things we keep coming to our church family for money to fund, and try to let God show us what the priorities are.

If we want our church family to support our budget with tithes and offerings; want them to give to the building; want them to buy food and supplies to give to missions locally; want them to give for trips abroad, or missions abroad, want them to support social functions at church where there's a charge; and on and on, are we asking that all they give to the world be strictly through WCC? This is a thought provoking question for me?

Are we also an inch deep and a mile wide in helping church family members decide what to give to?

You've raised a great question, and God will show our church His will.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post...

But I can't help but wonder if the orphans in Russia would prefer to hug a person...? Or a check?

Or the people in Jamaica would prefer to see a dentist and get their aching teeth fixed? Or would they prefer a check?

We could have sent checks to Joplin, instead of people...but I think the residents of Joplin truly appreciate the relationships they have built with the people of our church, as we have worked with them, side-by-side. A check can't hug you back and listen to your story as you tell of the tornado...a check can't give you reassurance that it will be better.

Writing a check is easy. Visiting places out of our comfort zones can be difficult. Learning other cultures and languages can be a struggle. Seeing poverty and injustices can open our eyes.

You ask, "What are the long term changes that take place in someone that goes on a mission trip?"

Shouldn't the question be, "What are the long term changes that take place in the people WHOM WE SERVE on the mission trip?"

If we are embarking on mission trips to make changes in ourselves - then we may be missing the point of going.

Anonymous said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Tonia

Lindsay said...

After just having come back from Russia, I would argue that the Russia trip is different. People don't just go for 10 days and come back semi-changed. There are real, long-term relationships being built there with the kids. Loving them with God's love gives us a bond that changes their lives and our own.

I'm not sure about the other mission trips in the church--perhaps it is just a week to help or "disrupt," but in Russia, the trip turns into letters and e-mails and love sent across an ocean over time. There is no way you could go on that trip and not want to continue loving those kids all year long.