Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An answer to a question....are short term missions safe and helpful?

I received a comment from someone who would like to come to Haiti to visit and help (not our organization).  However, their parents had strong feelings against the planned trip b/c it was "dangerous" and they couldn't get much done in a week.  The commenter wanted to know my opinion and/or ideas.
Overall, I do STILL believe that short term missions or volunteer trips are good both for Haiti and for the visitor.    I would add that it is important to join a group that has a long term presence here as well as on the ground leadership and strong national leadership.  If your trip is to assist an established organization with a history of effective partnerships with Haitians, then you'll make a great difference.  Haiti is not a place where you can just hop off the plane and help the first person you meet on the street.  Frankly, I don't know anyplace worldwide like that.
In terms of safety, there are dangers everywhere.  When I first considered traveling here, I was scared off by tales of insecurity, etc. as well.  A year later, the desire to come was SO strong, I simply could not ignore it and just trusted God to keep me safe as I served Him.  He did.  And He taught me the best, most fulfilling and exciting way to live is in the day to day trusting Him.  Fear doesn't always disappear, but can be dealt with when you remember WHO is in charge.
People can make a HUGE difference in a week's time.  Remember that volunteers are individuals serving in a long line of helpers over the long term.  If they are working under the direction of groups that are planning to meet the long term needs of here, short term folks are very helpful.  See our website for details....their energy, equipment, and support is invaluable to us.
We see volunteers impacted for the long term as well.  So many of our visitors tell us they are "forever changed" in how they see the world, God, and themselves.  We westerners forget how incredibly privileged we are.  Personally, my first trip outside of America and Europe changed my life two decades ago.  I was confronted  with how most of the world lives and forced to ask myself many challenging questions.  Not everyone will end up moving overseas, etc.  but everyone should make lifestyle decisions based on the realities of the world.  We can really only understand by experiencing first hand and meeting people in places like Haiti.  So if anyone has the privilege to travel, they should at least once in their lives, preferably prior to age 30.
The final issue brought up in the comment was about parents' concern.  I would advocate listening to them (not just because I'm a parent now myself).  I believe God can guide us through our parents.  If, after making sure they have all the facts, they are still strongly against you going, I'd suggest you wait until a later time.  But do try to make sure they get good info.  You can tell them to contact me if you want (smile)  Hope that helps someone out there.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Thank you so much, this truly does help. I appreciate you answering my questions, and I appreciate what you are doing in Haiti.

God Bless,

Samantha