I normally write this little article on Thursday of each week. During the week an issue will come up and I use this space to shed a little light on the topic. This week I was rolling some issues around and couldn’t decide on just one so I put it off till Sunday morning. My mind was settled when I checked the mail this morning. I was invited to go on a mission trip to a country half way around the world!
Yeah, and it will only cost me $3000 plus shots, a passport and visas. I would be joining a team from Arkansas and working with a team from that country to: run a medical clinic, train church leaders, lead in singing/worship and prayer walk. Well, I’m no doctor and I’m a terrible nurse so that’s out. I can’t sing or play an instrument and they all speak a different language anyway so that’s out. Prayer walking… Now that needs it’s own paragraph.
What in the world is that? Where do we find it in Scripture? The walls of Jericho? I’m not an expert on all things Bible but I had never heard of this until about ten years ago and now every mission trip is doing it. I observed it a few times at church camp, a group of people walking to all the dorms stopping and praying at each one before marching around the tabernacle in prayer. Isn’t this the exact same thing the Pharisees did on the street corners? “Oh no, we pray quietly as we walk, they prayed out loud.” Then why don’t you pray in private at home and send your $3000 to a needy missionary. If our prayers are truly aimed at heaven, then they will have no trouble reaching any part of the globe. This is just a modern idea to make everyone “qualified” for missions. I also firmly believe it has it’s roots in Pentecostalism and the need to touch and rebuke things in person.
It’s true, I could give some advice to church leaders over there. Truth is I already do, via the world wide web. I regularly correspond with missionaries discussing any number of issues they have. Our church has sent books and care packets to a number of native pastors for training and encouragement. While many have expressed a desire to see me face to face, if given the option, $3000 dollars would be of better use to them than seeing my ugly mug.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti mission trips. But mission trips are for missionaries. Missionaries don’t travel the world and risk their lives to play music, sing or prayer walk. They go to preach the gospel and aid the people. Paul would never use this kind of money to spend 4-5 days with someone. But we will, because we spend it on vacations every year. And that’s what it is, a religious vacation. I’m not judging all who go on these trips, but I am condemning the whole “mission trip” system. Christians have lost sight of real missions and we need to get it back.