To all those wonderful parents sending their kids on mission trips this summer. Your child no doubt will have or has had a great experience because it was made comfortable enough and safe enough for you to allow them to travel. Most likely they didn’t get sick or have any real uncomfortable sleepless nights. They may even have had to give up electronics for a whole 10 days.
What were the missionaries they worked with? What does that missionary have to raise in support yearly to sustain their ministry? What is a typical day they experience like?Did you or your child learn about the people who are living there full time? I just want to caution you and your child to have a belief that going on a summer mission trip is their yearly contribution to the mission field. No doubt your child was impacted and that is good, but how can they stay impactful long after their summer is over?
I ask these questions because when I went on trips as a student, I rarely remember anything about the long term missionaries we were serving. I remember taking pictures of all the kids and the scenery and (reflect now) how I was ill equipped to do really much besides give hugs and teach a few Bible stories that usually had to be translated. While I do think exposing our children to missions is important (I was impacted from it) I hope that we can understand missions isn’t for most a onetime fundraiser. It isn’t a week away from home. It is a life commitment; for many that means years away from “home”. It is constant “fundraising”. It is constant sacrifice of many things that are over looked as just a normal, no thought, given right to life. Often times the missionary only is remembered for but a moment as the organizer of a youth group summer trip.
I challenge churches as they raise funds and send children to places to serve; that they spend more time getting to know the people who are “on the ground” all the time. Find out how they can actually not only send people for a week to experience life, but how they can stay connected as a body of Christ and help the missionaries long term. Serve them with prayer, encouragement, money, time, resources, and most importantly Share! Share! Share! The more people hear their story the more it helps them spend more time “on the field” than “at home” fundraising. Often the real benefit of your child going on a missions trip is that for a moment that missionary was remembered and their ministry was given a spotlight.
This post was triggered by a few posts that people were making about their child going on a missions trip. And lots of posts about VBS and kids raising money. I was hit with a sad stat that I saw was a church advertising (seemingly boasting) they had over 900 kids participate in VBS and they raised $12,000 to help people in need. Wonderful, but if they did the math that is about $13 for each kid. Imagine if they each brought in $50 or $100…that would be $45,000-$90,000 wow that would make such an impact on the life of a missionary (and thus even more the people they are serving).
I am just saying that all too often (and I am reflecting) as I was once a short term mission goer, and VBS attender and teacher that we need to always be thinking about the reason we are doing what we are doing. Are we going on a mission trip to teach our kid to think about others? Are we raising money at VBS so we can make difference? I believe we are, but if we could think bigger and deeper and just remember your summer donation and momentary sacrifice is something that someone who has made a lifetime sacrifice takes very seriously and wants you to remember longer than a week out of your busy summer.