There has been a lot of debate among the Christian community recently regarding short-term mission trips. Many believe these are only a waste of time and money, purely for the benefit of the missionary. Although some may use short-term service trips for personal gain, often, these trips are what awaken a longing for longer trips in Christians, and without them, the mission field would not grow as it does today.
As someone who just returned form a three-day-long service trip in New Orleans, Louisiana, I can personally attest to the life-changing moments experienced in shorter mission trips. I saw hearts transformed and lives given to God in just three short days, and I know that I was not the only one whose passion for mission work was awakened. Not only was a future goal of missions created in several individuals, but great service work was done that impacted the community and lives of those who lived there. We, as a group of about 100 individuals, rennovated a local baseball park that had been in ruins since Hurricane Katrina devastated the city eleven years ago. We completed 80% of the work that the local government had in mind for the entire summer in a span of three days. Along with that project, our group helped at an animal shelter, redid the outdoor seating area of a local cafe, did landscaping work in a community garden, and more. Although these projects may have gotten completed without our group's participation, we helped to move along projects that had been in the works for years, as well as encouraged the community in the process.
Many long-term missionaries did not start their line of work without previous mission experience. Often, short-term trips awaken in individuals a desire to serve full-time. They realize the impact the short term trip had on them and on others and decide to make that a career. However, without the experience of a short-term trip, they would never know that passion was within them, and there would not be as many long-term missionaries as there are today.
Short-term mission trips are also the places that many people devote their lives to God. These trips leave individuals surrounded by uplifting Christians, doing God's work, for several days and, in that setting, realize the importance of a Godly life. Personally, after spending a week in Orlando, Florida, on a missions trip in 2014, I decided to be baptized. I saw what God's power and our faith was doing in the lives of others and I wanted that for my own life. I devoted my life to God and, since then, have not gone back on my decision. However, without that trip, I may still be experiencing life without the knowledge of God on my side, and would still be walking in my sin. My life was transformed because of a week long service trip.
Short-term mission trips are important. They help to futher and improve communities, even in small ways, bring about big changes in the lives of missionaries, and awaken passion for longer trips in many. Although some may be able to leave their lives and spend years as a missionary with no previous experience, many need that time of a week or two to realize what change missionaries can bring. Short-term mission trips are not a waste of time and money, and the transformations that take place far outlive the cost. Do not be discouraged by those opposed to these trips, and experience for yourself how your life can be changed in a single week.