Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rethinking Short-term Missions

I read this post yesterday and was very challenged which has brought me to alot of thought.

I remember flying home from Guatemala this past summer with my dad just trying to debrief everything that God had shown me. Alot of my visions for the future and opinions i'd once supported strongly were being swayed and it was alot to take in. We were talking about the kids at Eagle's Nest, and how while we were there, 5 different missions groups came in. 5. In one week. That was like 100 different people coming into these kids lives. And 100 people leaving these kids lives on the same day. They all came in, hugged them, kissed them, told them how much they were loved. But then they left.

I watched Claudia attach to different people everyday. I wasn't her favorite anymore and it broke my heart. This was by far the most painful part of the trip, but it was also the most influential. I realized that while each and every one of those people (including my dad and I) were there out of the desire of our hearts to love the orphans and show Christ's love to the people of Guatemala, damage was being done to the hearts of these precious kids. They were being taught to attach and then pull away everyday, and that's just not healthy. They identify themselves with one "community" and then when they're gone they find another one.

Now- I am NOT saying that short-term mission trips are bad. Not at all. God uses mission trips to grow in our hearts a passion for His people, and Lord-willing this will manifest itself into lifelong service, not just a week. Will I still go on a short-term mission trip? Yes. Even back to Eagle's Nest? Yes. I am not advocating the Church to completely eradicate short-term missions. They're a pivotal part of furthering the Kingdom.

However, I think that this post just reminded me of the need for us to evaluate our mindset in missions. It is WAY more fun to go travel to a country and hold babies. Trust me, my arms ache to go back. BUT, when we think of these kids...would it be better to put the money towards another native nanny that could become a "mommy" to the orphans instead of us Americans coming in for a week and playing that role?

My dad and I were still discussing this on the airplane back home from Guatemala. Finally, I said, "We don't need people on mission trips. We need people to come in and adopt these children and give them forever families!" This would completely take care of the attachment issues with mission trips- there wouldn't be children to go get attached to because they'd be living right in your own town! Granted, there are some countries that don't allow adoption. But if the Church would join together and make it our goal to adopt these children then we wouldn't have orphans to visit after all. We could support eachother in our adoptions and the care of these children.

Sighh...i'll get off my soapbox now! Aren't you glad I have Spanish class in 10 minutes?! :) But...this is definitely something to ponder. And I'm excited to read the book mentioned in the post (When Helping Hurts: How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself)



David K said...

Wow, Molly. That is a VERY good point and well worthy of our consideration. I've gone back and forth on these kinds of trips for years. In 16 years in the local church, I've led or participated in 10 different short-term trips. The sole reason that I continue to do them is the impact that it has on the "tripper" and the hope (and occasional fruit) of a changed life or a heart that becomes passionate for reaching the lost or loving the broken (and paradoxically, not NEARLY as much on the broken themselves even though we *say* that's why we're doing it). I've even toyed with trying to pull off the "Un-Trip" in which we raise all the money and then just send it all to the local ministry in that community to use it as they sit fit or to support an indigenous missionary and his or her work.

The one thing I NEVER did was consider what this was doing to the hearts of the children that we meet and engage with for a few short days than leave again, as family-less as they were when we came. FYI, I'm mad at your mom right now for inviting me to read this because now I'm highly disturbed! ;)

The Lucht family said...

Molly, thanks for stopping by our blog! I will stop by yours as well now. :) Brad and I have a shared passion with you for adoption. My heart aches for orphans as well and I weep at every single adoption story that I hear. (We just learned about the Swiger's upcoming adoption)

Since you share this passion would you please join us in prayer as we consider God's will for us in adoption and for timing? As you know we have 2 beautiful babies but we are now thinking about when/where/how to adopt.

Great hearing from you, sister!

Audrey said...

I TOTALLY agree! Its so hard because short term mission trips are so fun expecially in the middle and highschool years when we're all itching to do something but can't eactly move there yet. Its such a hard balance.