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Too fast for needy people

I awoke from a dream at 3:30 a.m.  In the dream I was flying in a small plane.  We were descending rapidly to a grassy landing strip somewhere in a place that seemed remote. The pilot looked like he was going to overshoot the landing strip, but brought the plane down fast and hard. …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I awoke from a dream at 3:30 a.m.  In the dream I was flying in a small plane.  We were descending rapidly to a grassy landing strip somewhere in a place that seemed remote.

The pilot looked like he was going to overshoot the landing strip, but brought the plane down fast and hard.

Outside the plane, we found the poverty to be great.

The people seemed odd, and I realized, it was a land of special needs people. They’d been left behind – forgotten by society. We weren’t much help to them.
I awoke and lay there. Reflecting, I realized that’s how we tend to view those with special needs.  We leave them behind. We put them out of sight, out of mind. Like our old people.

If I enter their world I tend to do so fast and hard.  Landing and taking off suddenly.

And I realized, that’s how we too often do short-term missions as well. We come in fast and hard in a needy place. Going there is a good idea, but the time spent may well need more consideration.
I’ve decided the dream may be from God.
What do you think?

Comments (21)

  • Seth,

    I too have felt this in my heart. In the slums of Manila, I have found that I want to give my short-termers on our Wipe Every Tear mission trips a little sampling of all sorts of needs in various areas and there is value to that, but I feel an emptiness as if God is saying “go and IMMERSE yourselves into a neighborhood for 3 weeks rather than 3 days”.

    I am reconsidering our future trips. I see in my spirit, waking up in the morning, walking around the corner to the local sari-sari (tiny sidewalk store, bakery, restaurant) and buying some bread, sitting down with a cup of coffee (not from Starbucks) and over an hour eating my bread and just sitting with the people, building relationships over a number of days with the same people every morning.

    If Jesus is IN ME, then we can just be around people and love on them and serve them and they will see Jesus!

    And then I feel the pressure of “we need to go do stuff for the kingdom” and I get trapped into thinking I need programs and projects, when really all I want AND I THINK JESUS WANTS IS RELATIONSHIP. We can do both, but we need to SLOW DOWN and stay in one area longer. I’m changing things up for 2012.

    Yes, this is from the Lord. “Thank you Jesus for showing us more of your heart in this dream”. Seth, thank you for showing us your heart.

  • I’ve actually been on that plane…we landed on a grass field in Mozambique in 1991 after swooping it onde to chase off the goats. At one point a gun went off. Everyone hit the ground but me. They were trained in fear and hunger. The images of starving people never leave you. Some of us get to go back…even if it is 20 years later…

  • Seth,
    Your dream is a calling to establish long term relationships with those who need us most. Your daughter, and those who have their own special needs. It may be any kind of pain, need, addiction, or need for love and understanding. Take the time to look closely at those put in your path and see why they are there. Jesus and the Abba Father are looking into your heart and you deeds. They know that your intent is true, but want you to look closer at the miracles around you.
    Have a blessed week and enjoy a new perspective!
    The pest from your past!

  • That is why I keep going back to Juan Pablo and stay there for a while.Your dream is from the Lord.Blessings my friend.
    mary lou

  • Yes I know the feeling. When my son and his wife were in Granada, on our second trip over we wanted to make it more than a “jump landing”. Because and through his/her attachment into this community we were able to work along side them. Our work continues as we sponsor a friends daughters (3) through School. We stay in contact with them through your ministry at AIM. Is not a day that goes by that we don’t think of them or pray for them. We will return this year probably alone as our Son/wife are headed in another direction, Ireland. Thank you for allowing our family to join other families around the world. Frank III

  • Sounds like Mark’s description of landing in Yei Sudan.

    There’s a new stirring and work at AIM for prepping long term missionaries. This is so good!

  • I read a study on how brain functioning affects compassion recently. They said exactly this, that compassion can only come when your brain slows down, down enough to get outside of itself and its own needs. It’s amazing that God showed you this in a dream!

  • Wow, Seth! This dream does sound like it’s from the Lord… I’ve thought about that often throughout the past couple of years. Though there is definitely a place for short-term missions, how much more effective is the fruit from a harvest of long-term relationship building, discipleship, etc???
    I think it’s quite significant. The world doesn’t need us to respond in our “American” approach of, as you said, “fast & hard,” planting seeds and then just leaving them there. The world needs the “Kingdom,” and all that this entails… not just the fishing of men, but teaching these men what it means to follow, and how to fish themselves. Love your heart Pops!

  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8

    Praying for wisdom today in this area for you…!!

  • All are special needs people thats why one of the fruits of the spirit is longsuffering.Perspective is an amazing gift,that we can only grow in.

  • Seth,

    Cannot agree more with your interpretation of the dream in terms of your assessment of how we do short term missions. I have wrestled with this for years for it was short term missions that brought me to Jesus which leads me to believe there has to be a place for them, however in terms of working with the poor I am convinced we have to adopt a much longer term perspective than we typically do. I deeply value Floyd’s perspective on the integration of short and long term workers. His long term folks focus on planting simple churches and from the beginning letting the locals take the lead, and any short term folks do only that which will further the long term work. You are right we have to “go”, but feel like the “how” might need rethinking.

    Chasing that dream….C

  • i wonder when you say short-term missions, do you refer to international short-term missions? to me, the analogy falls short because it connotes that everyone else is needier than we are.

    that said, i think the dream is quite haunting, very striking and of God. also, inclined to agree with claud’s comments.

  • Seth, this hit home BIG TIME. Before going on the WR, I was a coach and special education teacher. This, from day one, I felt: Most responses are, “They can’t learn anything.” or “They’ll never accomplish anything so leave them alone.” Boy did/does that make me mad… but it serves to drive home the point even farther when we look at the reality of what lies before us…. a child of God. As far as the short-term missions part of your blog, like I talked about in the e-mail with you the other day (at least I was thinking about it if I didn’t go on and on about it) but my answer is ‘yes’. Reconsideration and re-vamping is needed in some capacity most times. You didn’t just hit it on the head with me, the nail has been driven. What now?

  • Thanks Seth,
    i have been thinking the same, need to re think things. love STM trips and believe are great if done right. but teams come and go so quick. got to rethink how we do ministry. and pray the ones who go are neve the same again, but see missions and the lost in a new way, realizing they have lost ones right at home as well, and that God would awake the American church with the words of Jesus “go you and make disciples”
    Have a blessed day, our first trip is in April this year,
    pray God use me as I lead the team.

  • question:
    how does one interact with folks who post notes here.
    i would love to chat with Kenny on first comment at top.
    my email is [email protected]
    fb is address is : joel johnson, works with mission called. wordless ministries foundation new mission board,
    after 20 years with Brzil Gospel Fellowship Mission in

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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