I had no idea that a satirical post about short-term missions could stir up so much, um, passion. It was really cool. But then the “passion” turned into bickering and got super annoying so I shut it down. Sorry ‘bout that, but it had to be done.
As much as my attention deficit heart would like to show you a picture of a unicorn in a spacesuit or a kitten wearing a scarf with the caption “Moving on…” I know that everybody has a lot more to say on the subject of Poverty Tourism via short-term missions. So, let’s do this thing… again…
*deep breath* Oookay.
First. For the record? I’m PRO short-term missions. I believe that with education, humility, reason, and Jesus, a short-term mission trip is a vital part of the discipleship process. Seriously - I am so totally PRO short-term stuff it’s, like, ridiculous. So remember that. Because I’m about to
piss you off again bring up some of the more contentious parts of this discussion.
To be clear, I wrote that little parable from the last post as a bit of ridiculous, over-the-top satire to highlight the potentially ugly side of short term teams. Granted, satire can be hard to nail – to some, the story felt like a mockery of short-term teams in general. I’m sorry for that. But I stand by the post as food for thought. I really love (most of) the conversation that the story instigated.
There’s so much good stuff in the comments that I thought it might be cool to break down the different themes and talk about them individually. Here are summaries of a few commonly shared sentiments that stuck out to me. I’ll share my thoughts and invite you to do the same.
#1. The purpose of a short-term mission is to change the “heart/life/perspective/values” of the person going and isn’t really about the ones being served.
#3. It taught me/my kid/my grandma/my neighbor’s best friend from elementary school to be grateful for what he/she’s got.
#4. Grace. Duh! God is big and awesome and we suck. He can redeem our valiant but misguided efforts.
Anything else you think is worth addressing? Add it in comments.
So, over the next week or so, depending on how the conversation leads us, I’ll post my response to each of these statements, because it totally matters what I think. *shakes head “no, no it does not”*
And remember? I am not anti short-term missions.
I’m ANTI exploitation/dehumanization/demoralization for the sake of short-term missions…or long-term missions (blech! don’t get me started)… or any kind of pseudo-humanitarian effort.
My sincerest hope for this discussion is that it will make it off the interwebz and into the office of your missions pastors and onto the couch of your small group leader, and that it might, eventually, even wiggle its way into the philosophy of your church.
This is important because people are important.
…. …. …
I love you.
Comments are better read when they are kind, funny, intelligent and concise. But mostly concise. However, this is a BIG subject, so if you have A LOT to say – which is totally understandable – I might suggest that you write a reply on your blog and link it in comments with a brief summary. This will be good for the people who like to read comments and it will be good for your blog. It’s like a win-win. (Ha! See what I did there?)
Ok. Sound good? Anything I should add to the “Must Discuss Further” list?
ps. To clear up any confusion, I only reply to comments as "jamietheveryworstmissionary". So if that's what it says, it's me. :)