Although I have been critical of the modern idea called short term mission trips, I would like to offer some better alternatives that accomplish the same purpose. I am not saying that it is wrong for you take a short trip to do mission work, I am saying it is wrong for you to take a vacation and call it a mission trip. So why not be honest about it? “We are taking a vacation and while we are there we’re going to spend a day or two helping a missionary with his work.” This is better than asking other Christians to pay for your vacation, but it means you’ll have to pay your own way. If this is something that would be of interest to you, let me know. I know of men and churches in almost every state that might need a hand.
Another alternative is to acquaint yourself with some individual missionaries. Get to know them on a personal level and keep up to date with them thru social media, email, and letters. By doing this you will be informed of their needs and accomplishments. This will allow you to pray more specifically for them and will make you aware of how you can be of help to them. Many times these ministries don’t need a team from another part of the world to come and help them. They need someone who can proof read literature before printing, do graphic designs or letter heads, stuff envelopes, gather books and ship them, research new demographics and resources. All of this can be done from your living room or over the internet.
Let us not forget the most important need, money. No one likes to talk about it and most missionaries hate to ask for it. But they can’t live on love and coconuts. I have never met an honest missionary that was well funded for the work he was called to to do. Most of these men make great sacrifices to to go to the places God has called them. So rather than spending the equivalent of a month of their household income on your 5 day trip, send them the cost of the trip. O, I know it ain’t as fun to give away money as it is to go on an adventure. But, is it about your adventure or missions? Refer to paragraph one. If that is your motive call it a vacation and be honest about it.
There are occasions when a group is needed for a short time to accomplish a certain task, usually for construction. These trips are needed but they are not the norm and carpenters would be high on the list of those who need to go.
To sum up this issue let me say there is more to missions than fun trips in the summer. Most mission work is tiring and often boring. It’s not glamorous or fun. Most of a missionary’s supporting needs can be met by people who work a regular job and never leave their home town. You just have to take an interest mission. So I encourage you to get involved with a missionary and help him wherever you can.