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Mission Trips: A scam?
Edited for clarity. (Duh. Sorry. First post.)

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Reluctant Skeptic Offline
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Tue May 26, 2009 2:04 pm  Mission Trips: A scam? Reply

(Edited for clarity: Duh, I should have put the summation at the top. Apologies, this is my first post. Please bear with me.)

I guess the summation of all my questions is:

I thought mission work was supposed to be all about the people one missions to, instead of being a mission of self-gratification on the part of the missionary. Is this a new kind of selfish, status-conscious ministry?

I've given to several short-term mission trips that my relatives have wanted to go on over the past 10 years, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's little more than a theological feel-good vacation on someone else's dime.

I'd like to believe in their endeavor, but I've noticed a few things:

1) They can usually well-afford to pay for it themselves.

2) The way they contact me post-mission trip (summary of trip, thank-you note), as opposed to the way they contact me for the money pre-mission trip, leads me to believe that they're not inviting ME or my prayers along for the experience...They're inviting my $100 check along. Because I hear next to nothing in terms of gratitude or how the trip went, what they did, what the experience was like.

3) A couple seem to be playing fast and loose with the fund-raising. My niece, for example, went on a mission trip to China a couple years ago. We sent $100. Wasn't good enough. We had to help with a fund-raiser for her church (my husband and I did most of the grunt work).

Then, I found out the night before the fund-raiser, that she didn't need to raise more money anyway. She'd already raised it all. She said her mom told her they'd spend the money on new school clothing. (Did I mention they go to Disney World every year, and her parents pay full tuition for her private Bible college?)

4) It seems like the cost of the mission trip, if it was sent directly to professional missionaries, would go a lot further to help that area and recruit souls.

Rather than spending $80,000 sending 20 teens to China to illegally proselytize to Chinese students, why not send $80,000 to Equador to build 10,000 houses?

5) In fact, why not spend $500 for a weekend in East St. Louis, Detroit or Compton, missioning to the poor, indigent and uneducated there?

6) Missionaries in Paris? Really?
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Tue May 26, 2009 3:26 pm  Re: Mission Trips: A scam? Reply

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
1) They can usually well-afford to pay for it themselves.
This is irrelevant. If the work is needed and worthwhile, the worker is worthy of his pay.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
2) The way they contact me post-mission trip (summary of trip, thank-you note), as opposed to the way they contact me for the money pre-mission trip, leads me to believe that they're not inviting ME or my prayers along for the experience...They're inviting my $100 check along. Because I hear next to nothing in terms of gratitude or how the trip went, what they did, what the experience was like.
Did you contribute in order to get praise and recognition or to further the work of the Church? Is there a stewardship committee in the Church which oversees the effectiveness of such efforts? Would they not be in a better place to evaluate this than you are? Perhaps you should join that committee (Churches are always looking for volunteers.)

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
3) A couple seem to be playing fast and loose with the fund-raising. My niece, for example, went on a mission trip to China a couple years ago. We sent $100. Wasn't good enough. We had to help with a fund-raiser for her church (my husband and I did most of the grunt work).
How far do you think $100 goes? Who was it who said that where your treasure is ... ?

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
Then, I found out the night before the fund-raiser, that she didn't need to raise more money anyway. She'd already raised it all. She said her mom told her they'd spend the money on new school clothing. (Did I mention they go to Disney World every year, and her parents pay full tuition for her private Bible college?)
If this is accurate, you've been taken. I would wonder about the wisdom of sending young people who are being taught by their parents to misrepresent their motives to teach the ethics of Christianity to the heathens. You should register a complaint with the Church and consider spending your paltry $100 in some other more effective effort.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
4) It seems like the cost of the mission trip, if it was sent directly to professional missionaries, would go a lot further to help that area and recruit souls.
Maybe, maybe not. I've known professional missionaries stationed in the same place for years with virtually no progress.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
Rather than spending $80,000 sending 20 teens to China to illegally proselytize to Chinese students, why not send $80,000 to Equador to build 10,000 houses?
Consider the Mennonite Central Committee.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
5) In fact, why not spend $500 for a weekend in East St. Louis, Detroit or Compton, missioning to the poor, indigent and uneducated there?

6) Missionaries in Paris? Really?
I'm sure that Ms. Hilton needs to hear the Gospel. Wink
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Tue May 26, 2009 5:48 pm  Re: Mission Trips: A scam? Reply

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:

I thought mission work was supposed to be all about the people one missions to, instead of being a mission of self-gratification on the part of the missionary. Is this a new kind of selfish, status-conscious ministry?

It's very easy to be cynical. Most people genuinely want to make a difference. Of course when you believe you are doing something for God, it will bring self-gratification to you. It's only natural. We all feel good when we make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and we feel we have pleased those we serve.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:

I've given to several short-term mission trips that my relatives have wanted to go on over the past 10 years, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's little more than a theological feel-good vacation on someone else's dime.

Alas, this is probably the case for most short term missions. It's a chance to travel and see other countries.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:

Rather than spending $80,000 sending 20 teens to China to illegally proselytize to Chinese students, why not send $80,000 to Equador to build 10,000 houses?

Exactly. If all you're doing is spending money to proselytize, you're not doing anyone any favours, after all it's better that they remain ignorant and go to Heaven rather than hear the gospel and be given a chance to reject it, thus going to Hell. Real missions are the ones where practical help is given in some form. That's showing more Christian love than threatening Hell on people who don't believe.

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:

5) In fact, why not spend $500 for a weekend in East St. Louis, Detroit or Compton, missioning to the poor, indigent and uneducated there?

6) Missionaries in Paris? Really?

I'm hearing ya. Hey, I'm thinking of starting a missions trip to spread the good word of my God, "Bob". I'm thinking of some place like Hawaii. There are a lot of Heathens there that need converting. Or maybe we can target some Moslems in Dubai. Oh and there are a hell of a lot of Godless people there in Las Vegas. Interested in joining my mission?
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Tue May 26, 2009 7:59 pm   Reply

Quote:
Rather than spending $80,000 sending 20 teens to China to illegally proselytize to Chinese students, why not send $80,000 to Equador to build 10,000 houses?


8$ for one House?
You seem to live in some sort of dreamworld. Have you ever left our borders? Do you believe that we are some sort of super nation that is the envy of the world.. Giving 8$ for a house?

Dude.... Your not worth a 'Mr'...
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Tue May 26, 2009 8:34 pm   Reply

I think some mission groups actually require the person to raise the money--supposedly as proof that it is God's will that they go...
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Wed May 27, 2009 6:02 pm   Reply

kayky wrote:
I think some mission groups actually require the person to raise the money--supposedly as proof that it is God's will that they go...

Yeah, that may be the case, but I can't see how that actually proves that God wants you to go. That would just show me that you are good at raising money when you need it - that maybe you have a lot of support or maybe your a good sales person or a good con artist (I think they go hand in hand).

I would be more impressed if money miraculously showed up out of the blue from some unknown source. That to me would be considered more proof of God's calling than if it was raised by effort on the part of the person concerned.

I guess some mission groups just don't have the necessary faith that God will provide, without the need for great effort on their part. I can understand that though.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Thu May 28, 2009 1:09 pm  Re: Mission Trips: A scam? Reply

Actually, McCulloch, the people in question are not paid. They are essentially asking for the rest of us to pay for their trip, going to far-flung lands and trying to convince people to accept Christ as their personal savior. No problem with that, just a bit of practical, actual HELP would be nice to make their worldly existence a little better, for good measure.

Did you contribute in order to get praise and recognition or to further the work of the Church? Is there a stewardship committee in the Church which oversees the effectiveness of such efforts? Would they not be in a better place to evaluate this than you are? Perhaps you should join that committee (Churches are always looking for volunteers.)

Frankly, I often contribute because I feel guilty if I don't. I also feel a bit resentful that this is usually the ONLY time I hear from my niece, who is the one who, when I asked questions about her trip in person, she talked mostly about the food and the tours.

How far do you think $100 goes? Who was it who said that where your treasure is ... ?

Well, I guess I'm one of 40 people who each paid $100 for her vacation-mission. But thanks for building upon my feeling that "I been had" and that my contribution was neither needed, desired, or sufficient.

If this is accurate [regarding the niece raising money beyond what was needed, and spending it on clothing for herself], you've been taken. I would wonder about the wisdom of sending young people who are being taught by their parents to misrepresent their motives to teach the ethics of Christianity to the heathens. You should register a complaint with the Church and consider spending your paltry $100 in some other more effective effort.

Erm. Again with the "paltry" donation. Wow, you're really cementing the notion that I shouldn't give unneeded, undesired, insufficient funds. Nice to know there was a reason I was feeling that lack of gratitude.

I mean, c'mon. Was I expecting a parade? No. Was I hoping for a little inspiration about how the trip went? Yup.

I'm sure that Ms. Hilton needs to hear the Gospel. Wink

LOL! That was pretty good... Smile
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Thu May 28, 2009 1:22 pm   Reply

OnceConvinced wrote:
kayky wrote:
I think some mission groups actually require the person to raise the money--supposedly as proof that it is God's will that they go...

Yeah, that may be the case, but I can't see how that actually proves that God wants you to go. That would just show me that you are good at raising money when you need it - that maybe you have a lot of support or maybe your a good sales person or a good con artist (I think they go hand in hand).

I would be more impressed if money miraculously showed up out of the blue from some unknown source. That to me would be considered more proof of God's calling than if it was raised by effort on the part of the person concerned.

I guess some mission groups just don't have the necessary faith that God will provide, without the need for great effort on their part. I can understand that though.


Yeah, I can dig the whole "hey, please help me go on a mission trip" fund-raising for people who can't afford to foot the bill themselves.

But if they can clearly afford $thousands of dollars of frills in their life, then it seems pretty clear that God's already given them a clear message that hey, they can afford it already, and they should go.

Anyway.

I just get a little tired of being approached by friends and relatives almost exclusively when they need money for a mission trip. I used to buy into the whole notion, hoping for an improved relationship with that friend/family member ("Hey, you've got my support!"), and a recounting of what the experience was like --because I'm genuinely interested, but it's like pulling teeth to find out what they did, how it felt, etc. I'm beginning to suspect this is because they don't feel it's kosher to admit that most of what they did was sight-see and eat foreign food.

And believe me, I'm not a big attention or adulation hog. I give plenty of money anonymously, it's my preferred method. I've loaded Wal-Mart gift cards with $250 a few times and put it in the recipient's mailbox when I knew they were in dire straits.

I think I might do that again, whenever I get requests for mission donations. I'll make my own donation.

Thanks to everyone who responded (even the little turkey who noticed my math mistake-- ha!). I've wrestled with this for some time now, and have NEVER seen mission-trips questioned in any way, shape or form. That's amazing to me, and indicates that it's really ripe for shyster tactics, unfortunately.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Thu May 28, 2009 1:39 pm  Re: Mission Trips: A scam? Reply

Reluctant Skeptic wrote:
Erm. Again with the "paltry" donation. Wow, you're really cementing the notion that I shouldn't give unneeded, undesired, insufficient funds. Nice to know there was a reason I was feeling that lack of gratitude.

I mean, c'mon. Was I expecting a parade? No. Was I hoping for a little inspiration about how the trip went? Yup.


It is a good thing that your church is significantly less demanding than Jesus. If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.
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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:31 pm  Re: Mission Trips: A scam? Reply

McCulloch wrote:

It is a good thing that your church is significantly less demanding than Jesus. If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.


My church is actually just my husband and me, reading the Bible and discussing it in the evenings.

In terms of your quote (I believe the Bible also has something to say about those who do that, too), that was my whole point: Mission-goers who sign up for trips they could well afford to finance themselves, but demur from the opportunity to sell all their possessions, give the money to the poor, and store up treasures in heaven-- on their OWN dime.

Plank, speck, eye, that sort of thing. Angel
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