Short-term missions should be about relationships
Here’s what I wrote to
our 4000 participants who spent a week trying to help rebuild New Orleans this past year:
Many people look at their missions project to New Orleans and they see
hammers and saws. They see the
devastation that Katrina wrought and they want to focus on the obvious physical
needs that they can see. Goodness knows,
we at AIM want to help people put their houses back together.
But it’s important that we get God’s perspective as we go
into the hurricane-ravaged neighborhoods of New Orleans
and Mississippi. We may see mold on the walls, when God sees
the emotional scars of the homeowners.
We may see a roof with a hole in it in need of shingles, when God sees a
hole in the heart of the ones living under it.
AIM wants to not just minister to the physical needs of the
hurricane survivors, but to their spiritual and emotional needs as well. We believe that God is calling us to minister
to the whole man (or woman or child). To
do that, we need to get His perspective, and to get His perspective, we need to
pray. We call this kind of prayer
“listening prayer” because we ask the Lord questions about his perspective and
then listen for answers.
The irony about this perception issue is that in their
desire to be productive and to get immediate physical help to those in need,
some people will miss what God really wants to do. There is nothing that hurts so much as the
emotional pain that many residents continue to go through. Yes, they want to get their house back in
order, but even more, they want to know that people care about them.
We serve a God that knows their hearts and feels their
pain. If we ask Him, He will show us how
to reach out to them in a way that truly demonstrates our care. If you see someone on your project that needs
help in understanding and applying this lesson, don’t let them miss out on the
blessing of hearing God give His guidance in meeting the deepest needs of those
we’ve come to help.