Tuesday, August 9, 2011

short term missions: what?

We've all been there, right? Its late at night, you can't sleep, so your flipping channels.

While running the gauntlet of 24 hour news, 40 year old reruns, and a variety of programs showing groups of Italian-Americans smooshing in Jersey, all the while trying to avoid those naughty channels, you run across what appears to be some type of documentary touting the workmanship of the Amish. You know the Amish, right?. Those skilled craftsman that produce some of the finest freestanding electric fireplaces on the market.

You probably blew right past that infomercial, but not me. I love infomercials. I actually enjoy watching them. The acting, the plot lines, and the excitement when they agree to cut 2 whole payments of $19.99 if I agree to tell a friend about their product suck me in, but its not the infomercial that attracts me, its the stuff. I am a lover of stuff.

When I see things, gadgety things or tooly things, I get all excited and I want them, I need them. Like the Alien Wedge I didn't need it, I didn't even golf, but I saw an infomercial and I had to have it. So began my intense, albeit short-lived, love of golf. And before I took a stroll through the sales pavilion at the state fair, towels were all I needed to dry my car, but who can live without the ShamWow? Its a towel and a sponge! Oh yeah, I also bought these alumiweld rods to fix my motorcycle, but I never used them and I ended up throwing away the motorcycle in the garbage.

So I have a confession to make to you, the STMissionary.  I love you, hate you, and am jealous of you because of your stuff. You come down here fresh off a whirlwind shopping spree at REI. You have the latest backpack, the newest ultra-lightweight hiking boots, and a selection of outdoor clothing that would make any world traveler jealous. But that’s not all, don't forget the wide variety of electronics you have to track your GPS coordinates, to keep in contact with family, friends, coworkers, and entertain yourself during those long tropical nights we have is amazing. But have you ever asked yourself,

What should a STMissionary bring with them to the field?

If we go back to  Matthew chapter 10 , you remember, that’s the passage we are using as a basis of a STMissions program, we see that Jesus gives some pretty specific orders to the disciples about what NOT to take with. He starts with money, and tells them no, don't bring it. No bag, no extra clothes, no walking stick/ninja weapon. No, no, no, no! He sends them out into the world with nothing, and to top it off He gives them a little “pep” talk that goes a little like this:

Its a tough world out there. People are dying, brothers are killing brothers, and well, people are going to hate you. You're gonna get arrested, you're gonna get flogged, but don't worry, it happens to me to. So, when they persecute you just curse them and leave, they aren't even worth it. Move on to someone else. Oh yeah, don't be afraid either because your are really special to me.

Now I am no theologian, but I think I see Jesus using this as some sort of teaching moment. He sends out His disciples with nothing, but tells them they will be taken care of. He allows them no means to protect themselves, but tells them they are intimately known and tremendously important to the Father. They don't know where they are going, but He tells them there will be a place for them. So maybe, just maybe, Jesus is using this opportunity, this STMissions experience to help teach His disciples to trust in Him in a real way without the distractions of all that stuff.

So how do we apply this in our STMissions?

Maybe we need to limit what we allow on the STMission field. Maybe we say, don't run out and buy out the local adventure outfitter store, use what you have, within reason of course. Maybe we leave the extra money at home because this is about serving, not shopping. And maybe we give ourselves a little break from email, facebook, and twitter and take the time to connect with those around us, not to mention the one who is promising to care for us.

I say this because I know that God is not calling us to the STMissions field to rely on ourselves.  He wants us to learn to listen, trust and obey Him.  And I know for sure that God is not calling us to the STMissions field to spend 90% of our time in country running our business from a BlackBerry or calling our wives back home several times a day for hours at a time.  And I am absolutely positively sure that God is not calling us to the STMission field to play World of Warcraft on a laptop for hours a day when we could be engaged in His work (all things I have seen with my very own eyes from STMissionaries).

Do you think you could go on a STMissions trip without going shopping, if not why? What is the most ridiculous thing you have seen someone bring on a STMissions trip? Have you ever felt distracted by stuff during a STMissions trip?