Building in Mexico

In cities all over America, young people are hearing the call to service. Short-term missions is booming. Kids who’ve never picked up a hammer are traveling to Mexico to help build church buildings and houses. They’ll learn to paint, pound a nail, and perhaps even mud a house.

Meanwhile, in the American teenagers’ suburban neighborhoods, Mexican men paint their homes and mow the grass the teenagers otherwise would be cutting.

Something’s odd about that . . . this observation from a radio host in Nashville brings up some interesting questions about short-term missions:

  1. Are short-term missions for those in the traveling group, for the people in the host area, or both?
  2. Short-term groups feel empowered by building something, but did they empower the hosts?
  3. Were there builders locally who lost an opportunity for a job while Americans built the house or building?

Last weekend I spoke at the Global Missions Conference and had a good conversation in my session with about 15 others who are interested or doing short-term missions. I’m working on a book on short-term missions with Anne-‘Geri Fann that will be a survival guide for groups going on short-term trips. We hope to have it out by Spring 06.