Preparing for Worship, Jan. 14

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Preparing For Worship

By Heather Mustain

I remember my first missions trip like it was yesterday. I was a freshman at the University of Colorado and had recently come to know Christ. Eager to live into this new life, when the opportunity to spend my spring break in Jamaica serving at a children’s home presented itself, I jumped on it. It combined all the things I was growing to love at the ripe age of 18; travel, culture and service. Looking back, I was naive and ignorant to things like toxic charity and the pervasiveness of Western colonialism that can and did accompany these trips.

The narrative around short-term missions for far too long has been crafted to be about others when the truth more closely resides in the fact that these experiences are more about those who go. Scholars and social researchers alike have proven this to be true. When we continue to believe and promote this fallacy, our missions trips are full of toxic ideologies like paternalism, white superiority and cultural arrogance.

So then, why does Wilshire continue to promote and lead these types of short-term missions trips? It’s not lost on me that many of you will never participate for reasons I have already mentioned, but I hope it is at least beneficial for you to know the why behind our continued involvement.

First, I won’t lie to you; the short-term missions experiences through Wilshire will be more about you than the people you will meet. And that’s OK. We need to reframe these experiences as opportunities for our own discipleship, learning and transformation.

Second, everything Wilshire does we do in partnership. Our intention is to never recreate or duplicate efforts. Every short-term experience is connected to something larger, something ongoing and to someone whose presence will remain after we leave.

Lastly, experiencing the movement of God through the lens of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel, another culture or community can propel and encourage us to be change agents in our own context. We open ourselves to seeing God in new ways, we learn new methodologies, and perhaps we even feel nudged to do something about those mutual problems that keep us from going on a trip in the first place.

There is a lot to learn in this vast and expansive world. God is working in ways we will never know unless we go. And you’re right; you don’t have to go far, but I do hope you’ll go somewhere this year. Take a look in the Tapestry and you will find many meaningful ways to engage in service the next few months!