A person goes on a mission trip for the first time, and upon their return they are insufferable. Is it a life changing experience to serve people in a different culture who are living in desperate poverty? There is no doubt it. Such trips are truly transformational. When that first time participant returns home, they find it hard to comprehend that everyone else is not as fired up about going to Haiti or Mexico as they are after a two week experience. And in many cases the returning “missionaries” assume a mindset of self righteousness that is indeed insufferable. I have seen it so many times that I almost find it difficult to write about.
I am not convinced that such positive experiences are intended to unfold that way. I don’t think God intends for short term mission trips to be the springboard for unbearable behavior. There must be a way that a person can have a heart renovating experience during a mission trip of some kind without becoming a crusader that friends avoid like a bad habit. Actually there is a way. My friend Trey Morgan has helped me to experience that reality during the course of 2010.
Trey is my favorite blogger. (www.treymorgan.net). But more importantly Trey continues to travel to Honduras several times a year to reach out to people distressed by atrocious poverty. He is the man for the job. He has recruited untold numbers of people to accompany him on trips down there. He has raised funds for legitimate relief efforts. And he has even inspired members of his community to reach out to those in need at home in significant ways. Going to Honduras has changed Trey. I sense from the content of his blogs that he is not the same person.
He has never brow beaten people, because going to Honduras is not their particular niche of service. I have never caught even a hint of self-righteousness in the content of his blogs stemming from his experience in Honduras. He is a promoter for sure! His pictures from such trips are compelling and his stories are moving. I think there is a definite reason for the difference in Trey’s attitude.
People that come back from mission trips displaying a lack of patience with their friends who have not shared in that experience are still full of themselves. They need to take a page out of Trey’s life notebook. Trey comes back from every trip to Honduras all excited and ready to go again for sure. But he is not full of himself. Browbeating and other displays of self-righteous behavior are noticeably absent.
Trey is a fun guy who loves to help people. His enthusiasm about helping the poorest among us is contagious. I have plans to organize a medical mission trip for a children’s home in Mexico sometime in 2011. But before I go I plan to look back over Trey’s blogs. I think they might just give me some helpful pre-trip perspective.