Hi Everyone. The blogger that was to host today has had a family emergency so I am posting the Guest Post here that was set up for today. I will be posting my review and giveaway next Monday.
The Short Term Mission Debate-Some Thoughts From An Advocate
By Kim Tews
The beginning of the 21st century has marked a period of increased awareness of the needs of the worlds poor. The advent of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the ever-increasing participation in short term mission trip opportunities is cause for encouragement. However, several books on the market today hold the view that short team mission teams do more harm than good. As the founder and director of Outreach for World Hope and the Author of Tears Water the Seeds of Hope, I would like to offer a different perspective on the impact of the servant- hearted volunteers who use their vacation time and financial resources to leave their homes and families and serve God and the poor in third world countries.
Outreach for World Hope was founded in 2005 with the goal of saving the lives of severely starved children in eastern Guatemala. Since that time the ministry has hosted hundreds of volunteers who have endured the challenges of travel in third world countries and blessed thousands of people through their service. While it is true that it is important to take care to respect the cultures of the host countries, short term mission trips benefit not only those served, but those serving, and the ripple effects are infinite.
I remember the overwhelming joy I felt during a mission team trip in the summer of 2008, standing in the back of the last of five work brigade trucks loaded with our staff and OWH volunteer team members, as we ascended into the mountains to work on our projects for the day. I appreciated the love and compassion that each team member had for the poor and the faith and confidence they had placed in us by joining the team. The team’s focus for that day was the provision of 8 egg laying hens, a vegetable garden and 10 fruit trees for Marta, a young widow and the single mother of five children. In addition to the agriculture projects, a second room was to be built onto her overcrowded hut. We conversed with Marta, as we often did while spending the better part of a day with a family, and learned that her husband and nephew had been brutally murdered in her hut in front of her and the children, during a seemingly random massacre in the village late one evening. She had grabbed her baby and toddler and fled into the night with her three older children running barefoot alongside her. They had made it to safety, but her children were in shock over the incident and suffered nightmares and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
We asked Marta to show us the current food supply in her home, and she pointed to a dirty plastic bowl in a corner, half full of corn. It was all she had with which to feed her family of six that day. A team member immediately committed to the $29 per month for the sponsorship of this family, and the rest of us rummaged our backpacks for snacks, producing an assortment of granola bars, trail mix, candy bars, and fruit cups. The impressive supply of food that had instantly materialized was placed in a basket for the family’s use when needed, which turned out to be immediately. The children tore through the unexpected bounty on the spot, devouring every morsel and licking the wrappers. We planted the trees and garden alongside this brave young woman, who had been left to carry on with the responsibility of raising five young children alone. There is no denying that the presence of that team of loving volunteers was an encouragement to her.
One of the greatest joys of ministry leadership for us has been the privilege of watching God work in the hearts of the mission team members, some witnessing extreme poverty for the very first time. Their experiences and reactions are life changing as they are forced to come to terms with the fact that those of us who are blessed have the responsibility not only to care but to share with those in need. Tears are frequent and universal among the volunteers—some irrepressible in the face of the suffering they witness, others out of the love and compassion they feel while hearing stories of courage and survival in the face of overwhelming hardship. Unexpected joy mixes laughter with tears as team members work side by side with villagers to make a positive impact in the name of Jesus with the knowledge that they will return home changed, as these families live on in their hearts. Although the responsibilities of team recruiting, training, preparation, and travel are time-consuming, sharing the opportunity to serve and opening new eyes to the needs of the poor are paramount to our mission. It is out of broken hearts and tears that emerges the compelling desire to make a difference, for some through a lifetime of mission work; for others, one kind deed at a time.
You can buy Tears Water the Seeds of Hop from Amazon here.
At Barnes & Noble here.