When “Wasting Time” Is Worth It: Are Mission Trips a Waste of Time? Part 3
By James Franke, Short Term Missions Coordinator This article is part three in a series about Short-Term Mission Trips. If you haven’t yet done so, feel free to read PART ONE and PART TWO which this article builds upon.
Are Mission Trips a Waste of Time?
Another major objection is that of wasting time. Usually made when an individual decides to go on a foreign mission trip that would cost about the same as a domestic mission trip. Why spend five or six days traveling and only a week of serving, when you could stay here and serve for a full two weeks? This utilitarian objection to a short term mission trip really boils down to the belief that if time equals money, then you are wasting that precious commodity that could be used better by staying where you are. My objection to this point is a personal experience of the very first short term mission trip I ever led. I traveled down to Ecuador with students from Hofstra and Adelphi University from New York. Midway through the week, after spending a day of flying (New York – Quito) and a day of traveling by bus into the jungle (Quito – Misahualli), we then woke up at about 5am, in order to pile into the back of a pickup truck, driving two hours until we reached the very literal “end of the road”. We then proceeded to hike for about four hours up into the mountains until we reached a small jungle community, Tres Hermanos (Three Brothers). It was here, in this community that a group of dirty and muddy Americans, after having wasted literally days of travel, were able to celebrate Mass with the people for the very first time. Our willingness to go made it possible for the eyes of these precious people to gaze upon the Body of our Lord for the very first time EVER! We spent the rest of our day sharing testimonies, praying with the people, and fellowshipping with them. Was it worth wasting all that time? Absolutely! But what can you really do in one week? Yet another major argument against short term mission trips is that the mission team simply goes into a place, uses the people, and then leaves them in a place no different, or even worse than before. I think that for many trips out there, this is dangerous reality and perhaps the truest argument against going on a short term mission. Some groups will travel into a town or community, spending five or six days with the local people, giving them food, money, and a new house. They may even put on a vacation Bible school and teach the kids all about Jesus. However, once Saturday comes, the group leaves, the children are lonely, the families no longer fed, and the excitement of the VBS fizzles out, what has changed? Nothing. As dark as that picture seems, there is a very simple solution to make sure that this does not happen. When traveling on a short term mission trip, make sure you are going with a group that will have full-time missionaries staying behind, missionaries who are living full-time with the people you are going to serve! This will allow for you to stay in touch with the people you meet, to continue sending them aid, and will most importantly make sure that your brothers and sisters have loving missionaries with them, ready to help them grow in the faith, ready to witness, day-in and day-out, to the love of Jesus! To say that Short Term Mission Trips are a waste of time and money is to either completely misunderstand the purpose of a mission trip or to have experienced one of these trips that was not organized and run as it should have been. Either way, I would invite you to reconsider. The reasons I’ve outlined above are just scratching the surface as to the many that exist that bring worth and value to these trips, not the least of which are the lives of the local people that are truly changed by the witness of these short term missionaries and the missionaries (like myself) who went on a short term trip and discovered a vocation, a calling to this way of life. If you still have further questions about mission trips, I would love for you to ask them… question, seek, knock! Be relentless until you find the truth, until you find answers. Contact me! I would love to have a conversation with you! If you would like to experience one of these truly amazing mission trips for the first time, or if you would like to experience mission trips as they were intended to be, I personally invite you to consider joining us on any one of our upcoming trips. May God reward you and may you always seek to follow His will! Have you been on a mission trip before? Share your personal experience and thoughts in the comments below. By James Franke