Grow Your Know – March 2015
“That’s not what I was expecting!” A look at short-term mission trips by Tracy Johnson
As short term mission trips have grown in popularity, the debate has also grown as to how much good these trips really do. Are they only for the benefit of those who go and not those who are visited? Do we actually help our hosts as much as we think, or have we become a necessary evil they must deal with to get financial support? These are valid questions, and the answers can vary for a lot of reasons, including what the expectations are for the trip.
As Global Hope approaches 20 years old, the Short Term Mission Trip (STMT) has been a staple of the organization; sending teams every year to interact with the kids and caregivers in a variety of ways. I’ve been on a number of STMTs with Global Hope and believe the key to a truly successful trip is remembering that you are there to serve and not to have any preconceived expectations about what a mission trip should be.
Mission trips, even to the same location, can vary significantly in their feel and approach. These differences make flexibility a necessity. Otherwise, when your “plan” for the trip begins to change, you can become frustrated as your idea for the mission gets derailed. When we remember that we are there to serve our hosts in whatever capacity they need, it takes much of the anxiety and stress of the trip out of the equation.
I found myself in the position that many first time STMT members find themselves in during my first trip to Arad (Romania)….eager to accomplish as much as possible in two short weeks in order to make the trip “successful.” I learned during this trip, and subsequent trips, that what really makes a STMT effective are the relationships that you develop during your time at the site. The times I remember best are playing intense games of soccer and volleyball; watering the gardens at Stan Dragu while a young adult opened up about his goals and dreams for the future; and just sitting out under the stars near Brasov with Tata Roni and four young ladies telling funny stories and laughing so hard we cried!
I have learned as long as teams continue to approach their trips with an attitude of service and fellowship with other Christians, for the good of those in the communities they visit, the Lord will use that for His glory.
My recommendation: Leave your own expectations and goals at home, be there in the moment, and a “successful” STMT just comes naturally!
* If you’re interested in going on a future short term mission trip, let us know by sending an inquiry through Global Hope’s “Go” page (https://globalhope.org/go/). You’re not committing to anything by filling out the page, simply starting a conversation about future opportunities.
Read more in the March 2015 Newsletter: