Championing short-term international mission trips has unquestionably been one of the best things I have ever done in my life, both as a father and as a pastor.
Short-term international mission trips have sparked more spiritual growth in the hearts of people at the church I serve than everything we have ever tried to do combined.
When people ask why I think CCV has grown so rapidly and impacted our community so deeply, I always tell them I think it’s because God has blessed two things:
- We’ve committed ourselves to do whatever it takes to reach people far from God.
- We’ve thrown ourselves into international missions.
There are missionaries who have deftly pointed out the pitfalls and perils of sending Americans abroad to do short-term mission work. Yet, even when you consider these valid critiques, I still believe the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Here are the 5 reasons why I believe in short-term missions:
- You can make an extraordinary difference in people’s lives.
Over the last decade our church has funded and sent hundreds of teenagers and adults on specific assignments to build homes, evangelize, run medical clinics, repair church buildings, build schools, start new churches, dig wells, etc. Its tiring, expensive, painful, epic kingdom work we do. If you ask anyone who has ever been a part of one of these trips they will tell you that their experiences have been some of the most powerful moments of their lives to date.
- You get to serve missionaries and their families.
What people don’t realize, initially, is that an equally important reason we send people on short-term mission trips is to minister to the missionaries. I’ve long believed that God’s greatest servants are people you and I have never heard of. An unexpected benefit of any mission trip is that we are granted the privilege of getting backstage access to love on, listen to, be discipled by, and serve alongside these extraordinary heroes and their families.
- You can explore the possibility of becoming a missionary yourself.
One of the things I’m most proud of about our church is the number of people preparing to serve internationally. Mission trips are a dangerous thing. You never know when that punk kid who says he’s an atheist is going to become that crazy-talented missionary that will lead of thousands of people to Christ; or when that shy wallflower of a girl will become the one who stands up and fights against human rights abuses.
- You can alter the trajectory of your child’s life at an early age.
The best money we’ve ever spent as a family has been the money we’ve spent on international mission trips, both individually and as a family. I have nothing against going on vacations; it’s just that I’d rather trek with my family through the mountaintops of El Salvador to serve coffee plantation workers than drop money to go to the Jersey shore. Mission trips cost money, for sure, but they’re an investment that pays long-term dividends in your kids’ lives by permanently shaping their worldview.
- You can challenge your lifestyle assumptions.
There’s nothing like eating rice and goat meat for 7 days without showering to provide a stark contrast to what we think is “necessary” as Americans. Simply put, what other experience can you create for your teenager or yourself where such a contrast is presented? Seeing a family kill themselves to gather fire-wood for 14 hours a day to make $2 to buy food has a way of causing us to question whether spending $30 a month for an iPhone data plan is a “necessity.”
This may explain why CCVers have come back from these trips and decided to sponsor so many children internationally. The two stats I’m most proud of at CCV are (1) we’ve helped 1700+ people come to Christ in 14 years and (2) over a 10 year timeframe we will have given over $1,500,000 to rescue children from poverty in Kenya and Haiti.
A Sincere Thanks
Words cannot convey the deep gratitude I have for the missionaries that have sponsored trips for me, my family, our staff and the kind and courageous people at CCV. The heroes serving with our partner organizations at Lifeline, CMF, Casas Por Cristo, AIM, and Team Expansion have enriched our lives by granting us the privilege of serving alongside some of the most talented and passionate people I have ever known.
For their vision and sacrifices, I am truly grateful.
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