The question of whether to do short term mission trips is something swirling around the Christian community these days and a topic about which I've given some thought. There are many reasons that we serve (and just as many opinions about it) but for me, this is why we go.
Short term mission trips change lives. Not just the lives of people in the receiving country, but the lives of the people on the trip. In fact, I spent some time researching the beginnings of some prominent -- and some Ugandan -- not-for-profits. Unsurprisingly, they were started after their founder took a mission trip. Take, for example, World Vision, one of the largest and arguably most successful Christian ministries, with an annual budget of $2.6 billion. That's with a "B." World Vision began when its founder, Bob Pierce, went to China to serve with Youth for Christ. He saw the need and began to imagine World Vision. The rest is a beautiful history.
Take Compassion International. It was founded by Everett Swanson who traveled to South Korea in the 1950s to preach to the troops there. After seeing children orphaned by war, he started what would be Compassion International a year later.
And how about Ekisa? Ekisa is an organization serving disabled children in Uganda (we hope to visit on our trip). It started after a group of friends served together at a prominent orphanage in Uganda. They saw a need and met it. Same for the founders of Abide Family Center.
The list is long and I could go on, but I won't. We go because members of the team could have lives changed, passions created, and careers imagined all because of a trip to Uganda.
(For an example, see Kathryn's post here. Her entire life "plan" has changed because of her first trip.)
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord."
We also go because God said to go.
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'” Mt. 28:18-20
We go to fulfill the Great Commission.
Further, Jesus' support of the poor and His miracles and His ministries were not conditioned on anything. He didn't say, "If you check the following boxes, I will serve you." Or, "If you take the following steps on your own, I will bless you." No. Jesus took action. He answered. He acted. He commanded us:
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Mt. 25:34-36
He did not say, "For I was hungry and you made sure I was really below the poverty level before you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you checked with my village before you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you told me to visit with someone in my own country; I needed clothes and you told me to ask my pastor; I was sick and you told me you couldn't give me the $8 of antibiotics to heal me because someone else should; I was in prison and you couldn't waste your time with me."
Go. Do. That's what He said.
We go because sometimes sending money isn't enough. I believe in financially supporting causes and giving to the "right" organization. We are responsible to research our giving and be careful about who gets our money. Amen? But when we send money without seeing, we are (sometimes) throwing money at a problem we know little (if anything) about. Our passion is different (although often not nonexistent) because we have not "seen." By going, we see. And thus are convicted to act in increasing and even more productive ways.
We go because, sometimes, praying for someone is all they need. On my trips to Uganda, I've been blessed with the opportunity to pray with people on my team and people I have met. People's lives are changed through the planting of a seed in prayer or the hugging of a neck. Just as my friend Ashlee said here, we go because it brings hope -- through prayer and through love.
Last, we go because it encourages our brothers and sisters in Christ. We have been invited to travel by our dear friends at African Hearts. They have a need that we are willing and able to fill on a short term basis. While we are there, we are ministered to by the African Hearts Team and we minister to them as well. It is a beautiful relationship of mutual respect and love. We will do whatever we can to continue to love on them both in Uganda and from the States.
And so we serve....
Thank you for your support to get us there!