So recently I blogged on how my mindset shifted from taking a weeklong missions trip to attending a weeklong summer camp. I am sure there were those who were like “Dude – thats unbiblical to go against having students taking care of the poor and widows and orphans.” And I’m like “totally – I’m all for that!” The reality is, I’m just not for students foundation of taking care of the poor, widows, and orphans being grounded in once a year, 7 days, somewhere other than home. At some point a student will most certainly understand it goes beyond that one year trip – but my sixth grade dudes are still really figuring out what it means to follow Jesus. The best thing to help them understand missions is starting at home.
#1 Middle schoolers are still figuring things out – and are very concrete thinkers. So its tough to translate what happened in West Virginia – in a specific place in a specific time, into their current context.
This is why I will probably shy away from taking middle school students outside Stark County for awhile. There are widows, orphans, and the poor here – close to home. And the great thing is – while we can really focus down in one week – we can also keep going back throughout the school year! I can’t drive 4 hours to West Virginia after school – but I can drive them 15 minutes to the homeless shelter we served a meal at. And as we follow Jesus together they begin to shift from the concrete right here right now to the abstract here, there, and everywhere. And it is awesome!
#2 We can be a part of long-term relationship and change through Jesus to our community
I didn’t really do a study on this – but I know there is talk that short term missions can damage. We come in, do work, and leave. Yes – work is needed. But more important is the Gospel and relationships. When we are a part of bringing the Gospel to impoverished communities in our own backyard – we maintain relationships and support organizations each and every day. We set middle schoolers up and go with them until they are in high school, can drive, and have the urge to go themselves. And that – that is awesome!