Thursday, March 21, 2013

What NOT To Say To Returning Missions Members

Perhaps you know someone who has returned from a missions trip. Or perhaps you know someone preparing or fundraising for one. After two intense trips of my own, I have a compiled a helpful list of five things NOT to say to the person upon re-entry into the United States.

5. We have problems of our own here in the States. We need to help our own first.

Seriously. Please. Next time you see a child picking through a landfill for something to eat in the United States, call the press. Call the authorities. Then call me....   Because I have never seen/heard of it. Do we have problems in the United States? Of course. I do believe we are called, as believers, to help and love our neighbors whenever we see or hear of a need. (overseas or down the street) Food pantries, visiting an elderly neighbor, ministering to a family afflicted with sickness... all very important things which I often advocate. But, I do believe we are called to go further. Deeper. More self-sacrifical. Jesus got his hands dirty with some of the most unlovable characters in the Bible. Are we not expected to follow in His footsteps? Matthew 4:19-25

4. Can't they fix their own problems?

Do yourself a favor. Find out which country they visited and then read up on the history BEFORE asking this question. Things like civil war, corrupt governments, natural disasters, etc all may be things you'll be looking for as to reasons why the nation is struggling. After brushing up on some history, you likely can skip this question.

3. Well, you did your good deed. Let's get back to normal life.

The United States is not 'normal life'. We live in a Disneyland type of bubble. Here's an idea. Pack up your suitcase, travel to a developing country and walk through a dirty hospital that you likely would never allow your dog to be treated in. I'd like to think a mission trip is only the beginning of our realization that we are blessed beyond measure just by being born within American borders. Perhaps we are blessed so we can be a blessing to others.

2. I hope you handed out birth control.

Yes, that's working out so well for China, isn't it?
This is too broad of a topic for one paragraph. Detailed blog coming shortly.

1. Was it fun?

You've never been on an intense missions trip to destitute areas, have you?

Keep in mind that YOU live in Disneyland and the majority of developing countries basically live in the dumpsters behind it. Give people time to process their thoughts and feelings upon their return. Expect them to randomly cry. Expect that a simple act like grocery shopping will rip their heart in two as they remember children who were sucking on chicken bones, desperate for nutrients. Truthfully, we're struggling with the fact that we get to wander air-conditioned buildings, picking from thousands of food items....satisfying all of our heart's desires. We begin to think back to the mother who was so grateful to receive a simple bag of rice and beans.
Be gentle and patient and remember that you do not have the answers to solve the world's problems. As believers, we are called to serve people right where they are at. And a lot of places, where they are at, are some of the most difficult sights to take in. If that's hard for you to understand, hurry. Sign up for the next intense missions trip you hear of.
You'll never be the same.