I'm sure at some point in your life you've either been on a mission trip yourself or you've known of somebody who has traveled across the world to "make a difference." Personally, I think short-term international missions trips are a complete waste. I grew up going to church and hearing about mission trips. I even went on one to Philadelphia when I was in middle school and that's when my whole perspective on them started to change. Below you will find a list of reasons why I will never go on a missions trip, and you shouldn't either.
Something about asking people for copious amounts of money to go on a under glorified vacation just makes me cringe. Annually, around $2 billion dollars are spent on short-term mission trips. I couldn't even begin to count how many letters my parents got when I was growing up asking them to donate money for a mission trip. Every time I would see one come through the mail, I would feel personally offended. Could you imagine what this money could do for charities in the United States instead of using it as an excuse to travel the world?
There are so many people in the United States that are in desperate need of help. Instead of taking a journey across the world, why not just take a trip out your back door? No matter where you live, I can promise you there are more than enough underprivileged, struggling people to help. Whether they're homeless, veterans, or people impacted by a natural disaster- the list could go on and on- there is always someone who seriously needs your help. These people are our neighbors, so why don't we feel compelled to help them?
In my opinion, a majority of people who go on short-term mission trips do it to make them feel better about themselves. They like feeling like they've made a difference in some underprivileged person's life and feeling somehow connected to them because they spent two weeks living in a place that is much less luxurious than they are used to. I guarantee you that you won't see someone go on a mission trip and not post millions of posts and pictures on social media making sure everyone sees how great of a person they are. They want the attention and the satisfaction that goes along with the trip.
Going out to a different culture and shoving your religion down their throat is just plain disrespectful. If you really want to make a difference in people's lives, go live in their culture for a couple of years. Become a permanent part of their lives and show them that you accept them for who they are, regardless of what they believe in. The way you look at their religion is exactly how they look at ours. If somebody came to you from another country and started telling you about their religion and telling you that yours was wrong, how long would you listen to it? I bet not more than five minutes maximum. So what makes you think they should have to listen to you? Show some respect and instead of traveling the world to preach at people, sit down and learn about what they believe.
Going to these poverty-stricken, underprivileged cultures and telling them that everything will be okay, or will get better is only spreading false hope. When you leave and go back to your privileged american life, these people are still stuck where they are remembering all the empty promises you left them with. You give them a blanket of hope while you're there but then rip it away from them. Telling them that Jesus loves them will only go so far. Remember, you get to leave. They don't.
Finally, most importantly, and the biggest reason that I will never go on a mission trip is that they are incredibly selfish. In order to feel better about yourself, you travel to a foreign, more than likely dangerous country and leave behind family and friends that love you. When you leave to go help complete strangers, you could possibly leaving your loved ones forever. For what? The opportunity to travel the world and give yourself a false sense of changing the world? That's not okay in my book.
Next time you feel like you want to make a difference or change the world, why don't you start in your own neighborhood? You don't need to spend thousands of other people's dollars traveling to dangerous places to help people. You can do it here, in the United States. And it doesn't have to be for two weeks - you can do it everyday.