This is the second and final post of the "Do Short-term Mission Trips Really Make a Difference?" The first post can be found here.
As I said in my first post, I tend to agree that short-term mission trips can easily be more about us than about the people we are seeking to serve. I've been on trips where we went and contributed to a project, came home and nothing more ever came of it. Although that trip was one of the highlights of my life, it did little for the people there other than provide some free labor. That isn't a bad thing, but it could have been so much more.
The feelings from a mission trip will fade. Not all of the feelings are good feelings by the way. Many feel a real sense of inadequacy and uselessness. That is not a bad thing. It's when we come to the end of ourselves that we have to rely on God and strangely enough - that's when we become most effective.
There are exceptions, but it's been my experience that most of the people who go on a short-term mission trip come home with a fresh awareness about the needs of others and an excitement at seeing God at work close up and personal. Over time however, we get lulled back into complacency by the issues and demands of daily life. The experience has little impact on the way we live our lives.
That is why it is important to find some way to stay connected to the cause once the initial experience is past. That is the reason that our trips to Pine Ridge focus on building relationships with the people there. Many of our crew stay in touch with the people on the Reservation throughout the year. Letters are sent, pictures are sent, and even birthday and Christmas gifts are sent. Many of our crew go back each year to continue to build on the relationships they formed there. They know us and we know them. They are friends and when someone is your friend, it is impossible to see them as a "mission project". Its also much harder to continue to live lives of comfort while our friends are struggling to have their basic needs met. Those relationships formed on mission trips change everything.
As I said, there are exceptions. There are a few who just don't seem to "get it". I'm not sure what to say about those folks. I find it both sad and irritating. Others never get past the "me" part. They get stuck in feeling useless and un-needed and fail to realize that it's not about them. I'm not sure what to do about that either - other than keep reminding people that its not about them. No matter how many times you say that though, some people just never hear it.
Lastly, while the critics may say that short-term mission trips do little for the people being served, I have to wonder ... what would the world be like if no one went ... ever...
- My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.