Mission Trip or Mission Tourism

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Crabtownboy, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. Crabtownboy

    Crabtownboy
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    I have seen mission groups do really good work, physically hard word, painting, carpentary, etc. in Prague. I have also heard European pastors say, "Well, my church has just about recovered from the last mission group. I have been embarrassed by individuals aggressively hammering Europeans who they did not think were saved, or who did not agree with each jot and tiddle that individual believed.

    I saw the following article and though it might result in some good discussions.



    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/04/AR2008070402233.html?hpid=topnews
     
  2. rbell

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    As one who is heading to Prague in a few days (and a veteran of 20 or so mission trips), I'll chime in:

    It's important to work with organizations that closely team up with the missionaries in the field. Otherwise, you may end up with what was described--a group doing work that isn't needed.

    Also: some groups make the mistake of bringing as many as they can. Not all--not even most--kids are ready for international mission trips. I've seen many groups that carry kids (and adults for that matter) that are in no way ready for what is asked--emotionally, and especially spiritually. I'm amazed when I see a spiritually immature 14 year-old being put on the front lines. That's asking a lot...that would have been asking too much of me as a 14 year old.

    When I take a group overseas, I go through a rather stringent vetting process. You don't "sign up;" you apply. You have to engage in several projects over and above what is required by the sponsor group. And you make it cost something for the student to go. My "casualty rates" are high...I'll take a hundred or so to camps, but only a dozen or so overseas. But that's by design.

    Finally: training a group is essential. And I don't mean a 5-minute orientation.


    Oh, one other thing: Let's be realistic. Will a group of 10 teens do the same job as 10 pastors? No...but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater, either.
     
  3. just-want-peace

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    I've been on 2 mission trips, (Costa Rica - '82 & Taiwan - '00) and I totally agree with you. It's a wonderful experience, BUT, if not properly led, it becomes nothing more than a "scenic tour".

    I still get choked up when I think of the Costa Rica trip & the people there; so little materially (compared to us), but so happy and content in Him.

    Yep, a great experience - if you are prepared for it!!!
     
  4. drfuss

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    I have not been on any of these mission trips; although my family members have sponsored and have been on quite a few. From my perspective, mission trips result in the following:

    1. A great missions experience for those going on the trip.
    2. A tax deductable trip instead of a vacation.
    3. The results on the mission field are sometimes uncertain.

    Annual mission trips have become the thing to do. The need for a church to have a mission trip can stem from the need within the church, rather than a need on the mission field.

    We send mission money to build a church building directly to a church that has no building. The members build the church themselves, that way it means more to the members. The money is sent via the non-denominational International Coordinating Ministries organization whose overhead is complately funded by its once wealthy founder.
     
  5. nunatak

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    An eye opening article, kudos to the author.

    I am not a missionary, and have never been to the foreign field. Having established that, I question the purpose of short term missions. From the article:

    IMO, there are many, many groups that are much better equipped to take care of orphans, paint homes (Habitat for Humanity), help Aids patients, etc. The ONE thing the church is not only equipped to do but commanded to do is preach the gospel, teach biblical doctrine, baptize, and disciple. It seems rather difficult to me for a short term missions group to do any of this successfully, without partnering with a career missionary who is already in the field. But,

    Now this is a paradox. America is sending more short term missions trips overseas, but is sending less career missionaries that the short term missions trips depend on for success. Quite a situation.
     
  6. Zenas

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    Thanks, rbell. There is a lot of wisdom in this post.
     
  7. John of Japan

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    Great advice by rbell and others! :thumbs:

    I would like to add: LISTEN TO THE MISSIONARY!!

    The missionary usually knows the language, culture and laws of the land far better than the visitors. Yet sometimes the visitors think they have all the answers, and refuse to listen to how the missionary knows things ought to be done. After all, don't Americans always do it best?!?

    In one case a friend of mine, who not only pastors but runs a kind of retreat center, had a team of carpenters over to help finish the chapel for the center. Though they knew nothing of Japanese construction laws and methods, they refused to listen to him and did things "the American way." As a result, after they left he had to redo much of what they had done, having it be in the long run being more expensive and take longer. Oh and by the way, my friend is not only a carpenter but an actual rocket engineer who was a project engineer on the space shuttle! No respect! :BangHead:
     
    #7 John of Japan, Jul 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2008
  8. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    I appreciate the comments. We have had a few mission teams over the years. We meet in a community centre so don't need building crews. So far we have had rather good success and positive experiences.

    We communicate with the leader of the team far in advance. We try to make sure that they understand that even though this is an English speaking country, the people are not Americans.

    They know from the very start that the purpose of their trip is work and ministry. Any sightseeing we do is an extra.
     
  9. Alcott

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    Interesting coincidence. My church is participating in a mission to Ireland in late July, and there was a notice in the info sheets last week that they still need "a few" to commit to going. So, what good do you think people could do if they suddenly decided to go on this mission just 2 or 3 weeks away (and had the means to do it)? Should it take longer to get the necessary plans and be sure one is capable of doing what it's all about? What info is available does not mention building or adding to structures, but visiting and sharing experiences, et al. And if someone does make a quick decision to go, isn't there doubt as to the screening, per se, that the person's intents and motivation are proper? It seems you could have people looking around for someone to 'share the gospel' with who are really more interested in tourism, or they want something to brag about, or they want an appointment to some church (or civic, perhaps) committee or position and this 'experience' to tell about may help them get it. And really, these things are IMO what much of the aim is, though the organizers and major participants would, of course, deny it overtly; but it may be coded in language such as, "Expect this experience to change you!"

    If the local people are skeptical of Americans coming in, spending lots of money to accomplish a little-- as, for instance, the article said $30,000 was spent to put up a building that locals could have built themselves for $2,000-- they must be right in many or most cases. But there are a few skeptics among those of us whose churches do this arranging, also.
     
  10. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Where are they going in Ireland? Just curious :)

    I have no idea about this group, but I do know that this is a very popular site for mission trips that turn out ot be sightseeing trips.
     
    #10 NaasPreacher (C4K), Jul 6, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2008
  11. Bob Alkire

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    I'm all for mission work, but I wonder about folks going over for two or three weeks and leaving. If they are doing the work here and getting the Gospel out and so on, I would say they have a good track record, but if they don't their record isn't very good on mission work at home. If as was pointed out on the $30,000.00 spent to do $ 2,000.00 work if the locals did it, it isn't using money wisely.

    A few churches here send folks out on two and three week mission trips, but on the other hand we have one or two missionary's from other countries here starting churches. With that said, I would say there is much to do here at home to get the Gospel out.

    If the missionaries ask for help in such and such a field, I think that is great, and we should pray about it and do as we are lead by the Holy Spirit. But if it cost $3,000.00 or so for a vacation and not much work in the field, I for one believe the money going to the mission work would do better.
     
  12. HankD

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    While I agree that many missiontrips are simply a form of "Christian vacation", I would ask, So?

    Where better to go than to the place and brethren to whom you give your time and resource?

    I would also agree that the missionary in charge must be and do just that - be in charge. He/she know the language, customs, taboos, etc.

    One of my daughters went on a mission trip to Mexico and was profoundly affected by the poverty and spiritual deadness (catholicism) of the general population of the area they visited.

    How can we measure that impact on a life in terms of dollars.

    Let them go, and see first-hand the blessing of living in our beloved America. Yes, keep them under control, make the apologies after they have left (they usually leave a lot of money behind as well, though probably spent on self).

    If one out a thousand is touched in spirit and returns to fulfill the commandment of the Great Commission then IMO it's worth it.

    HankD
     
  13. Bob Alkire

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    I agree!!

    Again we agree!

    Again we agree!!! However I've seen the same think in intercity work in Miami, Tampa, and NY City , maybe the poverty wasn't as bad, but all the other was there. I've seen in Appalachia all the other but without the RCC. I see much of the deadness in truckstops everyday. The impact should be on us no matter if it is here or in another country to get us to want to share the Gospel with as many folks as we can, because as John 3:18,36 tells us one is either going to heaven or hell, we need not play around with it.

    I'm all for mission work at home and world wide but it should be an everyday deal.
     
  14. Alcott

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    I have located a brochure, and it mentions County Donegal as one base, but also says "Churches in other areas of Ireland have also invited teams to come and share in their ministry and outreach."
     
  15. queenbee

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    I would agree with this just from a logical, common sense point of view. I've never been on a mission trip but know many who have. I would expect that if ever I did so, there would be some stringent 'rules' I would have to abide by and an expectation of Christian maturity from me and other members in the group. To do otherwise, can easily sour relations with those being ministered to. What's the purpose in that??
     
  16. rbell

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    Right on, O boss of the worker bees...

    I think some youth ministers (there are others that do this as well, but it seems youth ministers are especially susceptible) are so excited about having a "big group go on a foreign mission trip" that they suspend good judgement, and aren't willing to look at the merits of individual participants.

    Some get intoxicated on "I have 40 kids going to Poland"--and maybe they should ask, "Should all these kids be going?"

    For us...we could have taken more. I could have "pushed" and had 30 or so. But why? Some of those 30 would have been going because it was a "glamorous" thing--travelling overseas. Others would have been more worried about what they got to see and do, rather than to whom they were able to minister.

    Today, during our last meeting before we leave (this Wednesday), one of my girls that's going said, "I'm looking forward to going...loving on the kids, and leaving my 'stuff' in the States. I'm looking forward to a week of being reminded by God what is and is not important." This gal is 16, and her walk with God would put many of our adults to shame.

    To quote a great American, Will Smith...."Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' 'bout!"
     
  17. NaasPreacher (C4K)

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    Will Smith beat me to it - I was ready to say "Now THATS what I am talking about!!!"
     
  18. Timsings

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    In April-May, 2005, I was part of an 11-member team (4 women, 7 men) that took a two-week trip to Sri Lanka to work on houses being rebuilt by Habitat for Humanity International after the tsunami that destroyed many areas bordering on the Indian Ocean. For the most part we had a very good experience. There were a few glitches that we had to work around, but we managed to deal with them. I thought we did pretty well relating to the local people and not imposing our ideas on them. In the US we supervise volunteers in building houses. In Sri Lanka, the construction is concrete and concrete block due to severe termite problems, so we were doing the "grunt" work to help the local people.

    We got a taste of the other side of the equation when a group of men blew in from Indianapolis. Apparently, they had done several of these trips, and their approach was mostly "we know what we're doing, so you folks stay out of our way so we can get this house built." They arrived the day before they began work, and they left the evening after they finished. They did not care about meeting the local people, seeing any of the country, or learning anything about another culture. They had planned to bring a load of Bibles with them to distribute, but HFHI learned about their plan, and stopped them. I don't know what church(es) they represented, but, after being around them for one day, most of us steered clear of them for the rest of the week.

    My group had several religious affiliations, but we were not there to do mission work. We were there to work. We had Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and even one Buddhist. I was the lone Baptist. We learned a great deal about what the people of Sri Lanka had suffered because we were able to combine a week of work with some sightseeing during the jet lag period at the beginning and the cool down period (2 days each). We've talked about going back or taking another trip somewhere else, but the hurricane damage on the US gulf coast has refocused our attention there.

    The important part of these trips, especially overseas, was our ability to spend a lot of time with people in pretty close quarters without any arguments. The hotel we stayed in while we were working had no AC and no hot water. We were 6 degrees above the Equator, so you can imagine the heat and humidity we had to deal with. This ability to get along with the other people on the trip is key no matter where you're going. It's why, as one of the other posters said, they have their folks "make application" to go their trips. You can't just take the first bunch of people who sign up.

    Tim Reynolds
     
  19. annsni

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    Yep - I totally agree with that. We had a team go to Cuba and have to rebuild something that was built wrong by another team.

    A really important thing, and something that the Cuban team found out (those that live in Cuba) is to understand THEIR goal and to stick with it. I heard that many organizations and churches would go down to do a certain project - what THEY wanted to do - and so what really needed to be done never did. Our missions pastor was speaking on this last week and it was very eye opening.

    We've found that what works best is to find a mission and stick with it. We have particular places where our short term teams go and with specific goals set in place. The most recent was a team going to Cuba to finish a building and then another team went to Nicaragua to train the teachers at an orphanage school in teaching methods. We sent down trained teachers to work with the teachers and then people who worked with the kids while the teachers were occupied. We had been asked to do this and so we went with what was needed. These are missions that are already working to spread the Gospel but needed the support from other believers. Kind of the holding up of the arms of the one who's being effective. :)
     
  20. ANewCreature

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    As a member of a very missions-minded church, I will say that is exactly our plan every time. Meet with the missionary; a lot.

    I'm helping with the teens for a church plant in Quincy, MA in about a month. We haave had one meeting and will have two more, whereas when the senior high pastor took a group to Latin America a couple years ago they had 9 meetings to co-ordinate things. It's going to be easier staying int he U.S.. Co-odrination with the missionaries is crucial, but this will mostly be passing out literature and such in advance of this church plant, so it won't be quite the asme.

    Still, I've been doing my part - not only praying, but also talkign with a couple young people in our Middle School Dept. about it, asking if they've ever led anyone to Christ, how they'd approach it if someone came to the door while they were hanging a door hanger about the church, etc.. It's important to have that idea planted in the young peoples' minds that there will be unusual experiences, and that the Lord will help them through it.

    We've tried to make sure all the young people we're taking are spiritually mature, but - though pushing others too fast is a weakness of mine that I try to overcome - I do try to keep in mind that not everyone is going to be ont he same page. The young 14-year-old who has never led anyone to Christ and hasn't really felt comfortable might not be a super soulwinner afterward, but perhaps he'll be the one who encourages his peers and is less reserved, afterward, about talking to his friends about Jesus. That's just one example of how there are different things the Lord will try to accomplish with different people.

    Missions work should change lives. We have 22 out of our church, IIRC, ont he mission field (not counting spouses), and the short term missions trips we've had in the last 5-6 years have produced 2-3 of these, maybe 4, if you count the ones who went forward in '99, but were more certain of where after going on one.

    I have been praying that more and more of our young people will gain an interest in missions work as a lifetime thing. It's a real encouragement to know that our church puts so much emphasis on missions.

    I can see how spiritual maturity is a real key, though. One group discussion in the online Missions course I took at Temple Baptist Seminary, Global Focus of the Local Church, focused on how bad things can get on a mission vision trip, and how to overcome those problems. One example the professor used was of a group that ate up all of a missionaries precious food supplies in the jungle because apparently nobody had prepared them for the fact there wouldn't be American food in the jungle! It seems funny because it was just a class example the prof invented, but I suspect it has happened. :tear:
     

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