28 May, 2010

Confusing "mission" with "travel"

Something I read recently annoyed me. Something in an Australian Women's magazine. Being on the 'inside' of the mission"business" it is not always easy to know what the general Christian population thinks about mission. Many of our conversations about mission are with people who "get it". Who are enthusiastic. Who pray for us. But they are a small minority, I'm sure. I was even more convinced of that after I read this magazine article.

The article described a short-term mission trip. The magazine filed it under "travel". The mission part of the trip amounted to six days - day one of which was travel. Days two to six consisted of helping out in an international Christian school in Vanuatu. This comment's sweeping generalisation shocked me:
"Being a mission school, most of the teachers were untrained."
Then the final seven days of their "mission trip" consisted of a holiday in a resort.

I know I come from a long-termer's perspective. But this seems to me to trivialise mission. They stated their goal was to "give something back to the community". I wonder just how much of themselves they actually gave. We in the West are so privileged. But many give so little of themselves.

A double page spread was devoted to this "travel experience". And it included a ad for the travel company who does this - "volunteer then relax holidays".

I feel Aussie Christians are holding back a little too much. Or am I totally corrupted by my own life experience?

PS Janet, you'll know it wasn't Footprints.


KarenKTeachCamb said...

I hear you Wendy. While some short term mission trips can be very effective and helpful, this type of article does nothing to support long term mission work. It also does nothing to validate the International Christian Schools serving missionary families which, as I know you know, are more and more frequently staffed by dedicated, qualified, and experienced teachers. Not only that, but they also often provide a great training ground for locally trained teachers who work in these schools as assistants/aides and eventually go out to enhance the local education system.

Footprints Australia said...

LOL love the PS! I think I read that magazine/article too, and kinda thought the same thing ...

Wendy said...

Phew, I was having second thoughts about writing the post as I neared the end of writing it and during the night. Glad that I'm not totally lost in "mission world"!