Are You Hurting Missionaries with Your Help?

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In this first video, Troy and Tara discuss share some of the frustrations they have witnessed or personally experienced from unprepared short term missionaries. They graciously acknowledge the good hearts and intentions of people wanting to help, but would love to see a few areas of preparation by these other believers so that their time in the field does the most good.


Have you been on short term trips? In your experience (or in stories you have heard), how have you seen the potential for negative results from a short term trip? How could the negatives have been fixed? What changes should have been made to see more good come out of the trip?
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Troy mentioned a strategy that some have used to find long term missionaries by sending short term trips. He suggested this may not be the best way to help people find a missionary calling. How do you respond to this suggestion? How can we give a curious Christian a taste of international missions without doing harm to long term work?
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Troy also noted that some of the best trips are built around learning the culture and loving the people, rather than project based. Why might it be hard to execute this type of mission trip rather than something like going to build a church or repair an orphanage?
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All of this advice is wonderful for a short term trip under normal circumstances, but what should we do when tragedy strikes and upends the opportunity for normal planning? When the massive earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, a great amount of help and aid flooded in. Even though there was no opportunity for the amount of planning the Livesay's discussed in the first video, they still learned a few things about preparation that will be very useful for someone who wants to help in a similar crisis. 


What was the most surprising thing you learned from this video? How has it changed your perspective on Christian donations, service or charity?
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What is the biggest lesson you have learned today about short term trip planning, whether for disaster relief or a normal trip? If you go on a short term trip in the future, what new idea will you bring to the preparation for that mission?
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The Livesays told us that the most useful thing a person can do with disaster relief is to find a large company or ministry that deals with crises, and ask that organization how you can help. Just showing up, while well intentioned may do more harm than good. The lesson from this post is careful planning. We certainly need motivated believers helping in the mission field, and taking a moment for wise planning adds great effectiveness to that work.


The Livesays referenced the book When Helping Hurts several times in this post. If you would like to learn more about this resource, you may visit The Chalmers Center website.