Presbyterian New Service: Short-term trip, long-term relationship
Short mission trips have critics but can foster advocacy, sharing, education.
In the past few years, short-term mission trips have gotten a bad rap, but on a recent delegation to the U.S./Mexico border, nine Presbyterians heard from those in the field who don’t immediately dismiss short missions.
The debate over how much difference such trips really make has been a constant source of discussion among missiologists — there is little hard evidence that much significant work gets accomplished because there are few physical signs of change on mission fields. Another charge is that short-term mission trips are often paternalistic and selfish.
On the other hand, Tucson Elder Michael Hyatt said, “Short-term mission trips are about learning, sharing and educating. We go to learn from and about the people and projects we are visiting and to share our gifts — ours with them and theirs with us — whatever they may be, and then to educate the people in the churches back home, which is also sharing.”
Elder Lynda Fredsell, of Greenville, S.C., said that “short-term trips helped me understand more so I could help people back home understand how good and wonderful the people of Mexico are. There is so much fear of foreigners.”
Leisha Reynolds-Ramos, a former Young Adult Volunteer with Frontera de Cristo, said that “short-term mission trips are about relationships. It is OK if groups want to do work projects, but even those should be focused on the relationship, not accomplishing a certain project. It is important to those who live on the mission fields to have relationships.” ...