When I asked three people what first came to their mind when I said mission trip, I got three different answers. Without hesitation the first said Kenya, Africa. The second said tourists. The third said a third world country. The diversity in their answers was surprising to me. I realized that I’d already anticipated their answer in my mind before I even heard their response. While I had been trying to show someone else their closed mindedness, I realized I had already closed my own mind. Through these different answers, I instead recognized that every view on missions is unique, just as every mission trip’s purpose is unique.
Some people have a strong aversion to international mission trips. One opinion is that in most cases, people go overseas for missions to say they traveled to a foreign country and did mission work. Another is that the people who are leaving the country to do service projects in the name of God often ignore what help is needed in places closer to home. Finally, those who have had an amazing missions experience often feel mission trips bring a world of blessing to both the people receiving and the people giving. Regardless of what your opinion may be, if these trips are in service to the Lord, chances are each trip has a specific purpose. It is not one’s place to judge if what one mission team is doing is sufficient based on one’s opinion. God placed those people in their respective locations for a reason. One might spend two weeks or two years in a foreign nation doing mission work, but ultimately if his/her work is truly dedicated to the Lord, he/she will make the impact that He planned. So before you make any accusations about whether or not a certain mission is worthwhile or not, remember it is called a “mission” trip because there is an end goal to be met and not everyone will share the same opinion on its definition.
Jean Donaldson is a sophomore biology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column reflects the views of the writer only.