Monday, November 15, 2010

Short Term Mission Trips: Helpful or Hurtful?

I can't get enough of the front-lines reports of God's work in Haiti via the blog called Sit a Spell, by Heather Hendrick. (She's on my blogroll, at the bottom of this page.) I don't know her, but I feel I'm getting to know her, and I really appreciate her insight, candor, humor, and wisdom.

In her latest post, she reviews the book When Helping Hurts, and gives her own gracious but candid opinion from her vantage point of a new, long-term missionary to Haiti.

Sure makes me rethink the place of a short-term mission trip that a church spends thousands of dollars on. Not that it's all bad. But I always thought, before now, that short-term mission trips were all good. I took one to Russia with my daughter, and it changed us. All three of my older kids have to been to Mexico on a STM trip. But I hadn't thought of the ramifications that our brief, albeit well-intentioned, appearances may have had in the orphans' lives.

I love being challenged to think, even when it hurts my heart.

For as Heather puts it so poignantly, "We always want hearts to be broken for the orphan, but never at the expense of the orphan."


Bonnie Sherer said...

Imagine this: I just emailed Stephen this morning and recommended he read that book, "When Helping Hurts" I read it over the summer before I left for Africa.

Zoanna said...

Wow. I've got to read it! What is your blog address again for Zambia. The fb link didn't work.

Zoanna said...

When I click on your link directly here, it doesn't work either.

Rachelle said...

I read the same post this morning...and Heather really made me think. Not long ago I mentioned to Clyde that I would like to go to Ethiopia (specifically Korah) on a STM and he said, "Why would we spend thousands of dollars to do that when they could use that(plane ticket) money for something more permanent (like school funding, a water well...)". He continued, "If aything we'll fly over to adopt some older siblings, but I don't want to go just to hang out in a nice hotel, hug some kids and leave".
Hmmm, really made me think. I agree that there are beneficial STMs. The ones I went on in Mexico were return trips for help in building church facilities and outreach evangelizing the community and inviting them to the church. I hope this was beneficial to the people of Mexico even after we left; the partnership between the church/missonaries was long term. I think this is something we'll really have to think about and weigh with our hearts and God's direction.