As most of you already know, next Saturday my wife and I will be heading out to the hills of Eastern Kentucky on a missions trip with my students and fellow staff members at Rock County Christian School. One of the objections I constantly here when it comes to short term missions trips is that it is just not the best way to use our resources.
I have to admit, I have doubts about this myself. For example, last year RCCS took a trip to Costa Rica and helped a church there. While we certainly were a help to draw a crowd, at times it seemed like we were just in the way. There were two main activities we participated in. First, we held a sort-of one day VBS. We attracted quite a large crowd. Being the Bible teacher, I was asked to give a gospel presentation to each child that came by. I was excited about the opportunity. Yet, the problem was I did not speak Spanish. Speaking through an interpreter seemed cumbersome to the point that I decided to stand back and just let the interpret work (I had also recognized he had a firm grasp on the gospel). That was much more effective. Our second main activity was repainting a gym floor in the church. Let’s face it – I am not the guy you want remodeling or repainting anything in your church!
So, wouldn’t it have made more sense to take all that money we raised (to send over 20 people took a lot of cash!) and sent it all to the church. They could have bought a lot of good VBS material and hired a professional painting crew that would have done a much better job!
So, believe me, I understand and sympathize with the objection. I even considered not going on this year’s trip because of that. Then I read Radical by David Platt. The book contains the following excerpt that moved me and changed my mind.
I remember when I was first preparing to go to Sudan, a nation impoverished by years of civil war. The trip was going to cost me around three thousand dollars. It wasn’t easy to travel into Sudan since they were still at war, and we would have to charter a plane and spend a few extra days to make that happen. I remember one dear lady in the church coming up to me and asking, “Why don’t you just send three thousand dollars to the people in Sudan? Wouldn’t that be a better use of money than your spending a week and a half with them? Think of how far that money could go.”
I wrestled with that question. Was I wasting these funds in order to go when I could simply give the money instead? Should I even be going? I continued wrestling with that question until I got to Sudan. There I had a conversation with Andrew that shed some light on the question.
Andrew was sharing with me about his life in Sudan over the last twenty years. He had known war since he was born, and he described facets of the suffering and persecution his people had been through. He told me about the various groups, most of them secular or government organizations, who had brought supplies to them during that time, and he expressed thanks for the generosity of so many people.
But then he looked at me and asked, “Even in light of all these things that people have given us, do you want to know how you can tell who a true brother is?”
I leaned forward and asked, “How?”
He responded, “A true brother comes to be with you in your time of need.” Then he looked me in the eye and said, “David, you are a true brother. Thank you for coming to be with us.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as the reality of the gospel hit home with me in an entirely new way. I was immediately reminded that when God chose to bring salvation to you and me, he did not send gold or silver, cash or check. He sent himself – the Son. I was convicted for even considering that I should give money instead of actually coming to Sudan. How will I ever show the gospel to the world if all I send is my money? Was I really so shallow as to think that my money is the answer to the needs in the world?
If you would like to keep up with my missions trip, you can log on to my missions trip blog at http://rccsmissions.wordpress.com.