Not too long ago when I accepted Christ, we attended my first mission conference. At the time, I had absolutely no interest nor urgency in reaching out to nonbelievers. I do not remember anything from that conference other than this illustration. The pastor was reflecting on the numbers of Christian workers in the U.S. as compared to those among the unreached people in China. So, you’re in the woods and you happen to see 10 men carrying a log, nine of them on one end and one of them on the heavy end. You wanted to help. Which end will you help lift? Although I’m not a very logical person, this is a no brainer. For some unknown reason, this illustration has resonated well with me. Perhaps God was planting a seed in my heart and it took two short-term trips oversea to finally sprout some growth. I have a lot of fears and still a lot of insecurities. But I believe in living your life radically because Jesus lived a radical life.
With that said, God made me Vietnamese for a reason and he has gifted me with language. And although I don’t want to limit him in any way, I would prefer working with the Vietnamese people if I can choose. There are too many shortcomings to list but in my weakness, I am pushed further in my relationship with Christ.
Carlson blogs on the booming generation of short-term missions saying:
What has made all of this possible? Western affluence and airplanes. What once took missionaries months of travel time now takes a day. George Whitefield crossed the Atlantic 13 times in his life! I crossed the Atlantic 10 times last year while eating, getting some work done, and watching a movie or two. What took Whitefield months in travel time on a boat takes us eight hours.”
“Imagine a team from France calls your church and says they want to visit. They want to put on VBS (which you have done for years), but the material is in French. They have heard about how the U.S. church has struggled and want to help you fix it. They want to send 20 people, half of them youth. Only two of them speak English. They need a place to stay for free, with cheap food and warm showers if possible. During the trip half of the group’s energy will be spent on resolving tension between team members. Two people will get sick. They’d like you to arrange some sightseeing for them on their free day. Do you want them to come?”
Sobering, isn’t it? The question that has been on my mind for the past couple of days: What will become of all my short-term “mission” trips? I put mission in quotation only because I believe it is truly missions for my soul. And although I am providing limited aid with my presence there, in the long run, I am the person that reaps the treasures. Time is the key to making disciples for Christ, is it not? Exactly how effective can I be with just two weeks to possibly a month’s stay at a place I won’t call home? I can preach the gospel until I’m blue in the face but to truly make disciples require dedication and consistency.
Come September, I will be heading back to Cambodia, God willing. I don’t know how I could be of any help but one thing I am certain about: Every increased exposure to short-term mission results in an ever increased yearning for more of Christ and in turn paving the way to the door of becoming a full time committed long termer. Maybe. Possibly. He knows.
Interested in more on what Carlson wrote, heres the link: