. . . posts on faith and life
Kara Powell raised the question at Shift if whether or not short term missions trips were truly effective. This hit home to me since I am a short term missionary! She threw out some ideas and some statistics that suggested that our efforts in short term missions trips may not only lack true impact, but might also be counter productive in certain ways. Thus, she suggests that these short term efforts, even good ones, might be considered shallow service. She goes on to suggest that a more helpful focus might be in what she calls deep justice, which she defines as ‘righting wrongs.’
I’m still wrestling with her take on short term missions trips. Having lived abroad as a missionary I have ‘received’ short term teams myself. And I have seen both shortcomings and significant impact. Nonetheless, I think her nomenclature has the potential to be extremely helpful. And for our tradition, I believe that we have neglected these issues of deep justice.
Skye Jethani says this in light of her session, “Our churches tend to approach service as an event—buying gifts for poor kids at Christmas, feeding the homeless, going to Mexico to build a house. Again, these are worthwhile things. But justice isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle. She defined justice as simply “righting wrongs.” Toward this end students at her church are engaging issues like sex trafficking, HIV/Aids, and modern-day slavery.”
I am planning on teasing out this week some specific issues along these lines. I think that we have lost our priorities on certain issues. Some things are ‘hot button’ topics that generate some very strong responses, perhaps too strong (abortion?). Other issues illicit almost no response at all (water wars in Africa?). Anyway, I’ll be hitting some of these this week. But in the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions or thoughts about this, I would be much obliged.