I believe that short term mission trips are valuable and change lives. I have given a week during the past four summers for short term mission trips and I have personally seen and felt there positive effect on the citizens and the teams. Many people think short term mission trips are a waste of money and time. They feel that money could be more effective if sent to the people in need rather than using that money to send a group of teens down to teach VBS and construct a church. All they see are the physical needs of the people and give greater significance to offering jobs for the people and providing them with their necessities than actually being there with them.
I feel called, as a Christian and a citizen of the world, to help provide for children and widows and supply them with the things they need. However, I would argue that relationships, fellowship, and quality time are as much a need of theirs as food and shelter. My team has spent two previous summers in Juarez, Mexico and when returning this summer, the children and church members that recognized my team were glad to see us. As we unloaded the bus the kids faces lit up and they clung to our sides for the week. They loved to sit on our laps, braid our hair, show us how to play soccer, and just be with us. The adults cooked us meals and enjoyed just sitting and talking to us. We learned about their jobs, families and faith. Although the money we could have sent them instead of coming ourselves would have built their church much faster and cheaper, our presence and fellowship with the Christians in Juarez was unmatchable.
Not only are mission trips effective in growth and fellowship fort he citizens, but also for the visiting team. The teams that serve get to experience the needs, poverty and joy that all coexist and are able to understand their own lives from a different perspective. I never knew how much I had until I saw how little is there. The love that was in their hearts even though they had nothing was a testimony to how little value money actually has. Until we see how little others have, we will not understand how blessed we are. I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to experience this at least once in their lives. I believe that short term mission trips are not only important in building fellowship and relationships, but also for understanding our own lives in a completely different context.
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