Be a learner not a knower. Be a server not a master. Be a listener not a speaker. Go with only the expectations that you are open to God’s plan and you want to be used in any way he wants to use you. Go with the heart that you have been sent by God. Act like a diplomat of God’s kingdom, because you are.
It is easy to be critical. I was once listening to a teacher from a European country lecture at a U.S. seminary on the evils of short-term missions. It was a highly critical lecture (with which I largely agreed), but there was no direction for what was appropriate in short-term missions. I don’t think he realized that he was actually participating in what I would classify as a short-term missions trip—a full-time intensive visit to another culture for a focused time of vocational ministry.
Short-term missions is fraught with problems, and many wish such trips did not exist, at least in the common form today. Robert Lupton says, “Contrary to popular belief, most missions trips and service projects do not: empower those being served, engender healthy cross-cultural relationships, improve quality of live, relieve poverty, change the lives of participants [or] increase support for long-term missions work.” Ouch! What follows will surely frustrate many.
The missionary movement, once filled mostly with trained vocational ministers, has slowly gotten younger and less trained. Now, due to students’ flexibility, most trips are geared for those between 15 and 22 years old. It seems that almost anytime I travel overseas I see a pack of students wearing the same colored shirts with a Bible verse on the back that announces their intentions.