Is Your Mission Trip Worth It?

Colorado RockiesOn Saturday night, 20 people gathered at my house to eat, plan and pray about our upcoming  medical mission trip to Africa. After dinner, I asked all of them to write down one thing they are afraid of.

While there were many answers, one stood out (probably because I share it):

Not being useful/productive enough to justify the astonishing expense of taking 20 Texans to Zambia for three weeks.

Shouldn’t we just send the money instead? Isn’t that more effective?

What a wonderfully American way of looking at the world. Unfortunately, throwing money at a problem is a great way of helping “poor people” without admitting our complicity or acknowledging that we too are poor and broken, only in entirely different ways.

And really, how many chicken coops must I build to justify the cost of my presence? Three? Six?

What if God wants me to sit still instead? Can I handle that? What if in my stillness a child with no mother crawls up on my lap? What if I can pray over that baby, washing him in the love of God, which is the only real thing I have anyway.

Is that worth the money?

Over the past six months I’ve gotten to know the members of this team and each meeting I am astonished by the depth of their spiritual wells. We have 20 year-old women saying things like this:

I am going on a Mission Trip to Africa. But when I say this, people often miss the impact this trip has had on my life. God has taught me that with an open heart, He will change my world. He has taught me to rely solely on Him for this mission…There is so much I feel lost on and out of control and helpless, but at the same time – I KNOW I am meant to go on this mission. I just have no idea what God has for me on the other side. – Khaliah


Everybody on this trip “knows” they are meant to go, even though many, like me, don’t understand why. Is it really to clean wounds or fix a chicken coop? Or is it to get on with the business of co-creating with God, making a scorched bit of earth slightly more like it is in heaven?

I was reminded by my teammates on Saturday, people I am growing to love for their candor, that we operate on a different framework – one where it’s acceptable to fly to the other side and bottom of the world for reasons we don’t completely understand.

One team member, Rickey a carpenter, put it like this:

“I don’t care if I don’t build shelves, I do that every day here. If I have to walk down the street in shorts carrying a sign that says I love Jesus, that’s fine. I just want to show his love.”

We leave in a week.


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