Every evening for the past several months, I would put the kids to bed and cozy up with my Chromebook and start searching. I researched places around the entire world. Looked at everything from medical missions in Africa to hockey camps for Jesus in Russia. I sent emails galore and received few responses.
Then, I finally came across something that seemed promising. A program through Youth With A Mission (YWAM) called Mission Builders International. They recruit short-term volunteers and match them with global ministry opportunities within Youth With A Mission. Mission Builder volunteers “lift up the arms” of frontline missionaries through practical, hands-on service.
This sounded absolutely perfect!
After discovering Mission Builders, my routine changed a bit. I would find myself looking at all of the YWAM campuses throughout the world, searching for one that could use our help and was willing and able to take kids too.
In my search, I came across the website for the YWAM St. Croix campus and read the following:
“We get it! We have five families on base and ten kids under the age of eleven. We understand the unique situations that families face, but we also see the unique gift that it can be to your family. One of the greatest things that you can do for your child is to expose them to another culture while they are learning more about God and how to serve others. It helps to change/form worldviews that are priceless. Kids learn by doing, and short-term missions is a way to teach them about serving, loving others, and God’s heart for the nations in a way that your kids will never forget. It is also a great opportunity to bond as a family as you work together without all the distractions that you face at home. This is also a good first time opportunity as we are a U.S. territory. If you are willing to take a “leap of faith,” we are willing to help you discover missions with your family!”
I sent them an email to double-check that they allow really little kids (some ministries have a minimum age of 6 or older) and what the cost would be to stay for two weeks. Someone sent me answers the very next day!
After months of praying and preliminary planning (time off from work, finances, etc.), we purchased 4 plane tickets to St. Croix! I am beyond excited and so incredibly nervous all at the same time.
My pride keeps telling me I should wait until after everything is completely said and done before telling what we’re doing. That way, if the entire trip is a horrendous disaster, nobody would be the wiser! But . . . being a Christian does not mean living a perfect storybook life. It means trying your best to live this life making a difference for eternity. — Jayme with Cory, Conner and Jenna
by Lori McDaniel
Every year over 2 million people participate in short-term mission trips.
They exit planes on foreign soil, motivated by compassion, a desire to save the lost, or to do something they’ve never done before. They trickle into villages or cities with agendas and plans, usually toting candy, crayons, and their old vacation Bible school material.
They share the gospel, do humanitarian work, make relationships that melt their hearts, and then return home with their world-perspective changed.
I think I still have t-shirts from several of those trips!
Churches have the potential to use short-term teams strategically and the potential to use short-term teams destructively.
- Over $2 billion dollars a year is spent on short-term missions.
- Less than 1 out of 5 teams go to places that are unreached.
- 75% of short-term mission trips are done poorly.
It is crucial that churches train short-term teams well and send them to strategic places. If we are going send over 2 million volunteers and spend over $2 billion, we need to steward our efforts.
We need to lead people to think like missionaries, not tourists.
When we lead people to think like missionaries, we move them from being mission volunteers to living a life style as kingdom citizens on God’s global mission.
They begin to understand the world as God sees it, learn to think like the people of the culture they are in, learn to share the gospel in a way it can be understood and received, and learn to think how to make a multiplying impact, not a one-time impact.
DO YOU THINK LIKE A TOURIST OR A MISSIONARY?
Take the test for yourself and mentally circle which ones describe you.
Tourists think: What can I take on my trip to make me more comfortable?
Missionaries think: What can I do to make the people I’m with more comfortable around me?
Tourists think: I’d like to fix all the problems I see.
Missionaries think: I’d like to know what the people of the culture think are the problems.
Tourists think: I’d like to take you home with me.
Missionaries think: I could live among you.
Tourists think: If I give candy, money, or my shoes I’ve made an immediate difference.
Missionaries think: What can I possibly do that will make a multiplying, reproducing difference?
Tourists think: I could build a church building FOR the people here for nearly nothing.
Missionaries think: I could plant a church WITH the people here using nothing.
Tourists think: I am on a mission to export my faith and convert people.
Missionaries think: I’m joining God, who is on a mission and already at work among the people.
Don’t cancel your plane ticket if you found yourself in the “tourist” category. And don’t mark your past mission efforts as a “fail.” Being on mission with God is a journey. I’ve lived on both sides and have another blog of stupid “mission” things I’ve done. I believe that if God can raise the dead, he can redeem my stupidity!
But let us be learners of doing missions well. Being on mission with God is a journey, a journey on which we should be active learners.
Let us raise disciples that live on mission in their local context so that when they cross cultures for a short time, they relocate thinking like a missionary.