Stay tuned for a couple of guest posts on missions in Africa (I’m not writing them; I’m just posting them because I think you ought to have the opportunity to read them ;-).
A few excerpts:
. . . Short-term missions often seek short-term results. And they aren’t financially efficient. Expending thousands of dollars to send people with no cross-cultural training or language skills to a foreign country and then expecting them to do something positive is naive and wasteful. One solution to this is long-term commitments to a specific project or mission. In this model, short-termers are less mini-missionaries and more ambassadors and accountability partners. I’ve written on my blog before about local church to local church partnerships that are making a long-term difference.
There is a risk of mission-tourism. And then there’s always the expense of sending a group of outsiders that might be better spent on projects on the field. . .[see Short Term Missions: Are They Worth The Cost? by Jo Ann Van Engen (pdf)]
. . . But my larger concern is not financial. The second weakness I see in churches adopting overseas projects is the lack of reciprocity. In every case I’ve ever seen, Western visitors come with the perspective that they have something to give and that the locals should be grateful recipients of their largesse. But the longer I live in Africa, the more I’m convinced that we are the ones who should come begging. Africans have much to teach us about life based on spirituality rather than materialism and the richness of a society centered on relationships rather than the individual. Finally, Christians I meet in Africa are much clearer-headed about the nature of the Gospel and they lack the cynicism and confusion that paralyze many Western believers. . .
. . . No missionary, short-term or long-term will ever be as efficient as an insider with the resources and motivation to tackle a development task. . .
. . . The Western church and the church of the developing South could make beautiful music together. But first we need to get together, get in tune and acknowledge the gifts that God has given each of us in the glorious global church of the 21st century. . .
Some interesting comments too: Ping. Pong.