At this point in the year, all of us – teachers and students alike – are looking to the light at the end of the tunnel: summer! When the monsters of AP, EOC, and finals are eventually vanquished, there will lie about three months of open time. Now all that’s left is to ask is “What will I do?”. And I mean more than just watching Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be binge-watching “Daredevil” and “Friends” hardcore, but that still leaves quite a lot of time open. Maybe that time could be spent serving…internationally???
You’re probably thinking “yeah, right,” but I’m serious! Serving through short-term mission trips overseas is a unique and wonderful opportunity!
Let me preface this with a little counterargument. Sometimes short-term mission trips are questioned as far as their effectiveness goes. For example: “You’re only there for, like, two weeks; How much can you actually do? Is it really worth it?”. For one thing, physical needs and aid can most certainly be met by short term mission trips to areas that might not otherwise receive them. So even if that was all short term mission trips did, that’s a great service right there. But I would argue that they can become some of the most transformative and impactful life experiences.
Last summer I went to Medellin, Colombia, as a member of a short-term mission trip team through my home church. Because of our connections with missionaries based in Medellin, we were able to work with the homeless, inner city youth, and rural communities. While we certainly were providing a service to these people, be it food, supplies, or otherwise, that really wasn’t the take away for me. I got to form relationships with people in a culture entirely different from my own. Experiencing an environment that wasn’t America was eye-opening to say the least.
I think it’s impossible for even the most genuinely kind people to be without prejudice, and actually getting to know and appreciate the people I met in Medellin made me acutely aware of my own stereotypes and assumptions. In my mind, Medellin was going to be a dangerous city filled with dangerous people. In reality, it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and I met wonderful people. The citizens of Colombia are more than the drug wars and violence that have come to define their country. There is no better way to understand something than to experience it. Quite simply, this mission trip changed my world view. That’s why I would encourage anyone to participate in a trip like this. Especially for us teens, I think experiences like this will go on to shape the way we go about our lives. If we have a better understanding of other people in the world, that will affect the way we connect with others: with a deeper respect and appreciation for the differences between us. Instead of spending time watching fake relationships in shows and movies, let’s spend time developing international relationships and perspectives!
If you’re interested in participating in a short term mission trip here are some places that you can connect with:
- Local Churches
- Word Made Flesh
- Salvation Army
- One Mission Society
- World Gospel Mission
- Evangelism Resources
While the resources listed here are Christian organizations, short-term missions can be transformational regardless of religion. Please don’t let concern over ideologies keep you from experiencing international service! If you are interested, I encourage you to continue researching the subject!