The Scripture Scout
How not to FREAK OUT before your mission trip. ;-)
And the countdown ensues…. How do we prepare then? This is only a one week trip! Should I be expected to learn everything there is to know about a culture before I go? What is the point if we’re only going to mess things up by being there? I’m feeling nervous and I’m changing my mind about going! Would I really do any good? How do we choose a functional/successful team so we don’t end up like the monkeynauts?
As you boldly go where (maybe) no one has gone before and the countdown is getting closer to “ONE!” the questions surface. At least, I hope they do. They are good questions and they should be asked. If you are a person who cares more about the people you are going to serve than your own motives and ideals for the trip, you will be asking these questions, if not more.
Preparation is necessary. If you are unsure of that statement, don’t stop reading yet. Short-term mission work is an ever-increasing interest in most church youth groups and ministry teams today. Many Christians agree these mission trips are helpful, but also admit that there are often stumbling blocks in the way of cultural and spiritual preparation, hindering the true mission. This blog “travel guide” will suggest that our greatest need in Christianity is not necessarily for more short-term mission work, but for generating future missionaries and mission supporters through that exposure. It will also recommend and advise you with words of direction and challenge. Let’s target the topics as culture, flexibility, what we do and don’t have of offer, the biblical basis for mission work, relationships on “the field,” and let’s most definitely find ways to discover and use your own unique gifts on your trip.
So many people are going on short-term trips these days. One million short-termers went to Latin America in the year 2000 alone. Many do great humanitarian work and often make some spiritual impact, but there are also some who, probably through lack of “pre-launch training,” have done more harm than good in one week’s time. Now our beloved monkeynauts may not have done harm on their trip - but did they do any good? And who was the trip for in the first place? Did the “Martians” really need what they had to offer?
If you read the fable Monkeys on Mars: A Fable for Missionaries you laughed about that group of monkeys who decide they need to go to Mars to tell the Martians about life on earth. These monkeys made some classic mistakes on their mission and the story is hilarious. But hopefully this fable will make it easy to laugh at ourselves while also learning a valuable lesson about God’s purpose for our mission trips.
Therefore, this guide will take advantage of the well-intentioned space monkeynauts and bring us back to the original humorous fable, but it will also take the proposed issues and questions seriously. So why read this as a guide when you already have enough to do to prepare for your trip? Because reading some kind of guide is vital, it should be required, and just the fact that you are reading this one shows that you understand the responsibility of going into another culture.
SO! Considering someone with your type of schedule, this blog guide could make it easy for ultimate usage of your time and preparation, your journey, and return. Keep checking in!
 Ken Walker, “Agencies Announce Short-Term Missions Standards,” Christianity Today (October 2003), [article on-line]; available from http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/010/19.30.html
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