Saturday, May 4, 2013
Mission Trips...Helping or Hurting??
The following is adapted from a blog written by a missionary in Costa Rica:
What if I was to fill a rental van marked “Tourist” with unbelievably rich people and then
were to bring them to your middle-class neighborhood to take pictures of you and your
kids and your house and your cars?
I’ll act as the unofficial tour guide to their trip, walking them slowly down the street,
pointing out the shocking differences between their lifestyle and yours. “This man,” I will
say with a gesture of my upturned palm, “cuts his own lawn.”
“These kids share a bedroom.” “Many of these families require two incomes… just
“Just look at these unfortunate kids here… with scrapes and bruises on their bodies from
playing OUTSIDE! And I know this will be hard for you to believe, but these children
don’t have a nanny or an Au Pair.”
I’ll tell them bluntly, “Most of these people will never ride in a helicopter, meet the
president, or own a show horse.” And they will glance at each other with looks of angst
and sadness; they’ll shake their heads at the injustice of it all.
And then I’ll let the details of your simple life sink in as they snap pictures of your no-
thrills mid size SUV and your quarter acre lot. I’ll stand aside so they can get pictures
of each other, smiling, with their arms around your kids in hand-me-downs. Ooh, and
maybe they can take turns helping you cut your hedge or clean your bathroom, and then
you could show some of them how to make a sandwich—That would be so great for the
video they’re going to take back.
But don’t worry. There will totally be something in it for you.. the “natives”. The rich
people are going to paint all of the houses on your block. For real. They’re going to pay
for it and do all the work and everything. Also? They’re gonna do a puppet show for your
kids, and give them candy and crap.
It’s a win-win.
Even if you’re extremely uncomfortable while all of this is going on, in the end, you
will look at your freshly painted house and it will make you feel good about what just
And when the rich people go home, they’ll get to tell their people about how they cut
your hedges and taught you how to make a sandwich.
Does the above seem far fetched or silly? Does it strike a chord in your heart/mind?
Or some other reaction? Whatever the case, keep this simple allegory in mind if you are ever planning a "mission trip" to a third world country.
A great book to read - http://www.amazon.com/When-Helping-Hurts-Alleviating-Yourself/dp/0802457053