Monday, January 19, 2009

Mission Trip Disappointment

Our youth group had planned to go to Chihuahua Mexico again this spring break, but alas, it was not to be. Too many parents started pulling their kids from the trip due to the drug cartel situation and the church staff decided that it was best not to go for various reasons. Some of the feeling came down to the trip being a tradition rather than a mission. Though it was a little disappointing, I kind of agreed. I liked Mexico, and the opportunity to help people down there, and I was disappointed that Christians were unwilling to risk their lives to further the work of the gospel.

But that was not the real disappointing part.

So now, the trip is likely to be headed to South Carolina. Fantastic! I've never been to the east coast, could be an adventure, plus I love driving and there's a good chance I'll be driving a fifteen passenger van. Additionally, the trip will cost probably half as much. One of my concerns last year with the Mexico trip was the huge outlay of money for the relatively small result, but hey, it gets kids into missions. What are you going to do?

Still not disappointed.

So we have a meeting after church yesterday and J Dizzle begins to describe all the goings on in the last two weeks that have changed the course of the trip. Then a couple of kids start talking about either them or their parents not wanting them to go because we weren't going to Mexico anymore.


I've been thinking about this idea for the past few weeks, as often I do. You see, I'll see something and start thinking about it and then something will happen to set it off, to make me angry enough to write a significant blog about it. I'm seriously beginning to feel like a prophet, not like an Isaiah, or a Jeremiah, or a Daniel, but like a Micah or a Malachi. I feel like a minor prophet. Minor prophets were a bit different than the major prophets, they wrote much shorter books, and relied far more on the injustices and wrongs they saw to form the basis of their pronouncements rather than on grand visions of the future. The minor prophets were men more like Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. They saw something in their world that was wrong, and they sought to change it. Prophecy is not relegated to the fantasmic visions of strange animals and future events like many think it is. The minor prophets were all about saying things like "Hey, you chuckleheaded dillweeds are screwing up and you better knock it off or God's gonna get all fire and brimstone and smite your ass. In fact, you already had your warnings, consider your ass smote!"

What I've been thinking about is kind of this concept I call superstar missions. It's like if the mission isn't sexy, nobody wants to do it, and then if the mission is sexy, then everyone wants to do it. That's the reason fewer kids want to go to South Carolina. Something that really stood out to me and helped me develop this idea was when one of the pastors at church was called to Tibet. Suddenly it seemed everyone wanted to go to Tibet, and many did, once. The Tibet operation ended up having a lot of disagreements and ended up having to go through a significant restructuring as I see it. Interestingly enough, our church already had a number of missions operations. Before Tibet, there were operations in Albania, Southeast Asia, and Honduras. I guess those aren't sexy enough to have the kinds of problems that Tibet had. As far as I know, there has been only one trip to SE Asia, and I think two to Albania. There are yearly trips to Honduras, but the difference is that there is a significant personnel and business investment there.

I absolutely believe that some are called to be missionaries, and some are called to do short term trips. However, the strife that I see on some mission fields does not smell of Jesus. The one thing that proves to me that our former pastor should be in Tibet is that neither he nor his wife really wanted to go there, in fact, his wife really didn't want to go there. The missions that I see that smell of Jesus are the ones that have people who really dedicate their life to what they are doing. They don't spend their time bickering about decisions, they don't spend their money on camping gear for the trip, and they aren't sexy. The difference is, they are told to do something by their God, and they are gonna do it, even if there aren't great pictures to be taken on mountain tops or in ancient stone walled cities. They don't always end up in places whose names are bandied about by Hollywood celebrities.

I am a vital part of a church that prides itself on how many of its members have taken Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. This is a church that is supposed to be dedicated to missions, a sending church, a place where God is moving. What's this crap about some people not wanting to go on mission trips because they're dangerous? What's this ridiculous nonsense about people not wanting to go because we're not leaving the country? I don't give a gosh darn if we don't leave city limits, there are people out there Jesus told us to help, and as the Lord is my strength, I'm gonna try to do what I'm told, even if it is dangerous, even if it isn't sexy, and even if I have to go to North Carolina to do it. Jesus said he didn't come for sexy people (I'm paraphrasing here,) he came for the lowest, the least of these, the cripples, the widows (that's old people), the fatherless (or the illegitimate). It's like when Mother Teresa went to India. Nobody really wanted to do that, it was unsexy. It was dirty. It was diseased. It was downright nasty. But she did it, and she became the superstar. But she wasn't the superstar just for doing it, she was the superstar because she never quit doing it. And you know the unfortunate thing? Her death was overshadowed by Princess Diana's. A person who did far less for the world, yet was far more famous. So everyone remembers when Diana died, but I don't know anyone who knows when Teresa died. In heaven, Teresa will probably be welcomed with trumpets and mansions and riches. I wouldn't bet that Diana will even be there.

P.S. I'm not talking about everyone in my church, just some. I suppose more or less of the same could be said about every church.


Micah said...

Yep! that is me a Minor prophet. Who would have thunk. Oh well I agree in some areas. I too used to go on mission trips just to get a spiritual high in some form or another. Thought the very last trip changed that view. I do agree that we put a fake face over the nitty gritty and when push comes to shove most run. This could have been a way to brush through the cotton and find the seeds that can cause future problems. The reaction to say the least from some of the included kids and parents just shows were they are spiritually in the way of missions. I am writing this late so it sounds and looks like crap. I am interested and will talk to you more about it on Friday. Until then stay awesome!

Anonymous said...

God didn't want us to go to Mexico... at least that's the sense we got... safety wasn't really the issue when push came to shove...

God is all about missions..
So is New Heights...

But God is also about sending the right people to the right places at the right time... which I think He is doing...

He is smarter than we are... and works within our strengths and weaknesses...


Toni Gale said...
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