Thursday, June 21, 2012

Missions Trip Junkies

One of the aspects of Christianity that self admittedly I get, but don’t get are short term missions trips. Summer time is usually when people begin to venture out from their homes to places either stateside or in another country. Perhaps some may even feel a bit more superior to others if it is a third world country that they will be visiting and doing "missions". Let me clarify that I do believe there is a place for a missions trip. However, like anything, I think too much of a good thing can be bad...let me explain. Perhaps this is a topic a Christian should just say "yay...missions trips!" However, God gave me a brain and I have thoughts. 
Recently on my vacation to, Ambergris Caye (Belize), I noticed an interesting trend about the people on the final lag of our airplane extravaganza. If you are flying to Belize you are either on a missions trip or on vacation. I sat next to a hand and wrist surgeon. He began to tell Tracy and I how he along with other doctors go to Belize for 2 days and volunteer the skill and material to do surgeries and check-ups. This got me so interested because this guy went on to say “I will probably do 22 or so surgeries today alone.” This is incredible because it truly is helping a person with something they do not have. This guy was being the hands and feet of Jesus. As we were waiting at our gate however there were those who were simply going on a missions trip to get out of the country and obtain a “world view”. What do they have to offer people in poverty or physically sick? Corny human videos and horrible clown make-up along with poor puppet skills. However, they do get great pictures with the nationals in whatever country they are going to. Anyone of these pictures could possibly be captioned..”And here I am at the zoo with......” These pictures make for great conversation but at the end of the day...what did you do for that person? It seems they go on these trips to get their spiritual "fix" each year. This person goes from one year to another helping out on missions trips but back home...not so much. 
This picture that I posted was one I took while in the Miami airport. This was a group that was simply on a “missionary tour”.  One of the young adults said...and I will never forget, “all the places mentioned on our is more of a funded vacation which is why I am going.” The phrase on the front of the shirt said “remove yourself from the mediocre”. This got me thinking and confirmed a few thoughts I have had. I have four thoughts about missions trips whether for an adult or teen. 
1. Many do use missions trips as a way to “remove themself from the mediocre.” However, what is a missions trip going to accomplish? It is like a person that looks at a billionaire and says “If I was as rich as them I would give away 90% of what I have and live off the 10%.” NO YOU WOULD’NT! If you are not doing that now you will not do it then. A person that is mediocre at best is going to come back mediocre. Usually a person that is motivated or even slightly motivated stateside is going to be even more motivated when they get home from a missions trip. 
2. “I just felt God use me so mightily while I was over there. I wish I felt that back at home.” are correct...but why? I am of the belief that more times than not scripture talks about “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive POWER to be my WITNESSES.” Guess doesn’t take a whole lot of guts to live for Christ in the states. Believe it or does not take a whole lot of HOLY GHOST POWER to stand at a flagpole and pray. It really doesn’t even take a whole lot of hours in prayer to be a Christian at work. However, when you are in a foreign land and talking to a complete stranger (tribe, language barrier, etc) about Christ It takes the Holy Spirit. For, Joe Christian to step into an underground club in may rely quite a bit on the Holy Spirit. It really does take power from the Holy Spirit to begin a new ministry in which you are not ministering to people within the church or those you are comfortable with. It really is a cycle isn’t it? Holy Spirit comes on you with power to be a witness. Next, you go out to be a witness and you truly feel the Holy Spirit using you and giving you the correct words to say. As you “minister” to that person you feel more of the Holy Spirit. When we stop being used where it takes reliance on the Holy Spirit...perhaps we cease to feel that empowerment. This is where many church goers fall...they don’t feel that freshness of the Holy Spirit, a freshness and excitement for God. Why? because quite honestly you really don’t need it when you are living a same old same old day to day life. DREAM...GET EXCITED...DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
3. This is a short one. Question to think about. For those that are so passionate and willing to dig in and be used anyway possible on a missions that same passion being used back here in the states? Is that same excitement being used to volunteer at a non-profit (bell ringer, Red Cross, soup kitchen, church, etc.)? Perhaps the reason why a ministry isn’t going that you could get plugged into is that you are the one who should start it. Okay...I turned up the heat a bit here...I will cool down now. 
4. For a person that is missions/ministry minded it will confirm for them probably what they already feel closest to God when you are serving people. This passion that you feel on a missions trip will probably come back with you. Perhaps you may even learn some things that you will want to apply when you are back home.
I guess for me I have seen to many teens/adults go on these trips and see no change. They simply came back with the warm fuzzies and had a funded vacation. Would I be so naive as to say “all of them”? No...but it really is disappointing even with some teens/adults that we have to rely on a missions trip to jump start our excitement to serve when the possibilities are endless at home. Get involved and do something here and have that feeling all the time.