And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
It was 1985, and our 18-year-old daughter Helen was transferring through Miami International Airport on her way back home to Lafayette, Louisiana, from a short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic. She had been there leading a team of young people from our church, including our 16-year-old daughter Catherine and our 14-year-old son Jon, as part of a World Servants project. They had worked in a remote village with dirt roads and no running water. In two weeks they had built a simple church structure using concrete block and had also led a Vacation Bible School for the children of the community. It had been hard work, but they were thrilled by all that they had accomplished, and the villagers were overjoyed.
As she walked through the busy airport, Helen spotted “Charlotte” and a group of her old friends from high school. After the usual squeals of delight, Charlotte explained that they were on their way home from a week in Paris, where they had visited various museums and enjoyed many of the delights of that wonderful city. She asked Helen what she had been doing and looked appalled when our daughter described her two weeks of manual labor in the Dominican Republic.
“Why would you ever do such a thing?” Charlotte asked.
Short-term missions are not exactly new, but they have always been somewhat controversial….
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