Did you ever hear “watch your language!” as you were growing up, raising children, or maybe even out on a sports field? I sure did, and I hardly ever swear. Yep, hardly ever. I love Jesus but I cuss a little. Very little, but you can still pray for me.
It has been 12 years since my first mission trip, and in those 12 years I have been learning a second language. Not Spanish, Thai, Serbian, Arabic, Japanese, or any other ethnic language of a country I have visited. Not at all. I have been trying to learn the language of mutual partnership, humble servanthood, and human dignity.
How do we, the church in the USA, talk about short term missions?
Are we going to do something for someone? Or are we walking alongside them, supporting what they are already doing?
Did we decide to go somewhere? Or were we invited by a missionary or national partner already serving in the area?
Are we talking about what can we give to the community we visit? Or are we interested in what we can learn about the community, God’s work in the world, and the faithful brothers and sisters reaching others with the gospel?
do something vs walk alongside
decide to go vs invitation
giving vs learning
Our words and actions carry a great deal of weight. When we enter a community with the attitude that may convey “I’ve got it but you don’t” or “I am here to do it because you can’t”, we rob our brothers and sisters of dignity through our best efforts to help.
As I grow in my relationship with Jesus, meet God in the place of grace, and practice mutual partnership, humble servanthood, and lifting up human dignity, I am becoming more consistent speaking my second language when talking about short term missions. I am not perfect, not by a long shot.
I invite you, sisters and brothers, to hold me accountable and to join me in watching your language as you talk about short term missions and put into practice this second language… and make it our first language, rooted in love, respect, and grace.
reposted from my Volunteers in Global Missions blog 2014