I recently read a series of articles discussing short term missions and whether or not they were doing more harm than good. It was very interesting and there were a lot of great points made both for and against short term missions. I know it seems hard to think that there should be anything against missions at all, but it is true, unfortunately that some short term mission projects do more harm than good. But also, some long term missions projects do more harm than good as well.
I myself am not against short term missions. If I had not gone on my first short term mission trip to Haiti, then I may not have ever become a missionary. This trip was a great experience for me but I know it all has to do with the the missionaries we went to help, and the ministry they already had set up. We went on that trip to aide the missionaries, not to hold big evangelical rallies.
In my personal opinion (which may not count for much, and I totally understand that) I think it is not the duration of the "missions" that we should question, but the quality of the job we are doing while we are there. There are plenty of short term mission trips that are a huge benefit and blessing not only to the people who are being helped, but also to the helpers. I do agree, though, that most of the time to do a quality job does take a long term commitment. ***Please don't hear what I am not saying. We will need people to come help us build our house on a "short term" mission trip. I am not saying don't come. Please come. Please. We need you.***
Jesus spent lots of His time with people. Developing relationships with them. Discipling them and teaching them. Really investing Himself in them, and I think we should do the same.
As Americans we have sort of adopted a fast food mentality to almost everything we do...including missions. We like to go in to a poverty stricken place throw some tracts at people, preach the Gospel to people through a translator, ask everyone who wants to receive a "free gift" to raise their hands, and rejoice when "hundreds" get saved! Its fast, cheap, and easy, just like McD's.
But just like fast food isn't healthy for our physical bodies, this time of "missions" isn't healthy for the body of Christ. Sure it takes longer to move in with people, learn their language and culture, and teach them about God the creator, His character and history with mankind and His plan of redemption through His Son Jesus, but this investment creates disciples and a healthy church, just as taking the time to prepare a healthy meal from fresh ingredients creates a healthy body. Does it take more time, hard work, and money? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes.
A good friend recently brought to my attention that CNN was reporting that PNG was a mostly Christian country. And I know that the government proclaims itself as a Christian nation, but when you live here, you look around and wonder where all the Christians are. You might be surprised to know that most of the villages that we are looking into moving into already have a "church". Yep. Its true. But are there Christians there? No.
You see there are lots of well meaning churches and organizations that come here (and everywhere else in the world) and do the "fast food" missions and call an area "reached" when really all they have done is built a building and added another spirit to appease in the minds of the people. Then the country itself is stamped CHRISTIAN in big red letters and everyone can high five each other and move on.
But what is left? A big mess that someone has to clean up...or we could just keep turning a blind eye to it, until one day Judgment comes and who is left accountable?
Christ asked us to make disciples. People who will have a real and true relationship with Him and who can then teach others and pass their knowledge of this relationship on to each generation. And that is what we are here to do. We want to make disciples and plant mature churches. We want to render ourselves unnecessary. We want to leave one day, knowing that the Gospel message will move forward, and will do so much more effectively because now it is in the hands of the people, and they are reaching their own people in their own culture.
Anyway, I have no idea why I am writing this really. I guess I just didn't want any of you to have seen that report on CNN and wonder why the heck we were here if this was a Christian country and we are supposed to be reaching the "most unreached people groups in the world". You were wondering that weren't you? Yeah, I know you were. You were thinking we were just here for the waves and the tan. But would you still think that if you knew that because of the way we have to dress here I look like I am perpetually wearing a white tank top and bike shorts???
And to wrap things up, here is a picture of me with a "kapul" on my back. As you can see she was very interested in our daughters' toys. Yes, it was fun in a very creepy sort of way...