Has an organization facilitating a short-term mission trip ever encouraged you not to go? You might be surprised to know that 127 Worldwide has some hesitation about sending teams to our partners. It is not without risk that we pack up a group of Americans and send them across the world to enter a new culture, partner with a local leader of a different worldview, and jump into an existing ministry amidst brokenness that has no quick fixes or easy solutions. Not to mention that we send teams to join our partners in reaching out to vulnerable people, all of whom tell their own stories of oppression, neglect, and loss. There are no cookie-cutter solutions to issues of poverty and family fracturing, and it takes longer than a week to understand the need, much less seek to alleviate it.
Don’t panic– we have a lot of good reasons for sending short term teams! And we will share how our vision acknowledges the challenges and addresses them head on a little later. Here though we want to build a case for why we’ve created our teams the way we have. Check out this article, “Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short Term Mission Trips”, and then spend some time on the reflection questions listed below. With this context you’ll better understand our unique model in 127 Worldwide GO Teams!
- This article quotes from Toxic Charity, where Robert Lupton writes that most mission trips and service projects do not accomplish what they claim to. At 127, we’re redefining the traditional “mission trip” model (which you’ll notice is why we don’t even call them that!) because we care deeply that our teams do meet the benchmarks he lists (below). Which of these do you feel empowered to do well on a team? Which desired outcome would require more investment from you in order to do it with excellence?
- empower those being served,
- engender healthy cross-cultural relationships,
- improve quality of life,
- relieve poverty,
- change the lives of participants, and
- increase support for long-term missions work.
- We want to acknowledge that a power differential is something that can seriously affect a mission project because we often don’t acknowledge its presence. Can you think of a time when you were “the American woman who goes to Uganda every year to teach flag dancing to Christian women and is only frustrated that no one is making flags and dancing?” What are some ways to safeguard yourself from becoming that person?
- At 127, we still believe in sending teams for exposure, encouragement, and empowerment. Reading an article like this though does urge us to pause, consider our motives, and ask– Am I supposed to go? Why is it a better use of resources for me to get on a plane than to donate that money directly to 127 partners’ ministries?
- This article highlights how often we’ve given disproportionate weight to the impact a mission trip has on ourselves, above how it affects those we go to serve. How can you change that narrative so that when you join 127’s work, you keep a vigilant eye on the impact your ministry has on the receiver?