My husband and I really wanted to go on a mission’s trip to the Caribbean. The missions’ team planned to paint an orphanage, build playground equipment, and minister to the children. My husband has worked with children for decades. This was right up his alley.
Unfortunately, for both of us to go, we needed $4,000. We didn’t have time to save that much money. One of us could have gone, and we began a discussion about which one that ended with an unusual perspective about missions trips.
I wanted to go so I could write about the trip for my blog. Rory want to go so he could paint and minister to the children. His intent was nobler than mine. I encouraged him to go. He didn’t want to go without me. Neither one of us was happy that only one of us could go on the mission trip.
As I pondered our dilemma, something occurred to me. If we had the money to spare, wouldn’t it benefit the orphanage more if we simply stayed home and gave them the money? Why spend $4,000 to fly to the Caribbean and paint a building. With that kind of money, the orphanage could hire a local laborer to paint, have money left over for other needs, and someone would have a paying job.
Twenty people went on the mission trip without us, which means $40,000 was spent on travel to accomplish a few thousand dollars’ worth of work. Where is the wisdom in that? The orphanage spends $1,000 a month on food. If part-time missionaries had stayed home, and sent the money instead, the children would have food for years. Instead, they have a painted building and a playground when they could have had both.
If I sound cynical, forgive me. Maybe I came to this conclusion to feel better about not going. But when you calculate the numbers, it is what it is. I realize I’ve cast a bad light on people striving to do a good work even though that is not my intent. Several of the people who went on the trip are friends, and I do not think ill of them for going. I’ll never diminish their effort to serve God by telling them what I have just pointed out to you. If we had the money, my husband and I would have spent a week in the Caribbean with them.
My friends returned from the mission trip transformed. They choked back tears and could barely talk as they described the poverty they witnessed. The trip flamed their zeal to help suffering humanity into a bonfire. All of them were determined to return next year and do more for the orphans. I applaud them. Then a woman, I did not know, who went on the mission trip was called upon to share her experience. To my surprise and shock, she announced they should have given the orphanage the money it cost them to travel to the Caribbean. I would have never said it before the entire church, but I am glad someone did. All things considered, I think church mission trips help the part-time missionaries much more than the people they seek to assist.