I heard the testimony of a big and gruff man about his mission trip.
“It was to Reynosa, Mexico. We didn’t do too much building or construction; we did do Vacation Bible School. Something happened there one day that broke my heart.
Every day there was a lady who came to the VBS who didn’t have any legs. She didn’t have a wheelchair. One of her arms was bent from years of pressure, scooting herself along on the ground.
Even when it rained and streets were muddy and filled with water, she’d scoot through the mud. What was really hard to watch is that she had a small child that she wanted to make sure got to VBS.
So she had a sack draped over her back and she would carry her toddler draped over her back. She would come every day, it didn’t matter what the weather, scooting along through the mud and dirt so her daughter could hear about Jesus.”
At that point as the man related the story, he broke down in tears and couldn’t go on. Finally he pulled himself together enough to say, “I’ll never be the same again.”
Short-term mission trips can do that. A moment can change the course of your life. And we would do well to analyze why. Why will the man never be the same again?
Maybe it was because he’d gotten into a rut of protecting his heart, and what he saw got through his armor and caused him to feel again.
Maybe because he was inspired by the woman’s example. She is an overcomer. If she can overcome her issues, perhaps his issues aren’t so big.
Maybe because he’s humbled. In the past, perhaps he’s felt entitled or acted like a victim. Perhaps the woman’s courage was a gut check.
Generally, we know that the best road trips in Sussex can change ones life completely as it assures the greatest experience of all. But here the point is that the man changed for the better while on his missionary trip. We don’t do short-term missions for the missiological impact. We do them because Jesus modeled them and they serve as life-changing tools for those who are serious about discipleship.
Short-term missions have come in for a lot of well-deserved criticism. Done poorly, they foster dependency, waste money and can even hurt people.
But done well, they can change lives and follow a biblical pattern.
Did you go on a mission trip this past summer? Did it change any lives? How do we know? What price do we put on that change?