November 16, 2011

Why HANDS? How HANDS Trips Encourage a Missional Perspective

Blog Archives:

For the month of November, our blog is featuring weekly posts discussing the challenges and benefits of HANDS short-term mission projects. Stay tuned next Wednesday for a new post!

It seems the term ‘missional’ is more common than ever these days in discussions about transforming the world for Christ. But what does missional mean, anyway? And how do HANDS trips encourage a missional perspective?

One excellent definition of the word ‘missional’ comes from writer Rick Meigs, who says, "Missional is a helpful term used to describe what happens when you and I replace the ‘come to us’ invitations with a ‘go to them’ life—a life where ‘the way of Jesus’ informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture."

HANDS service and learning trips are rooted in this same philosophy—to “radically transform” the lives of all involved by encouraging them to make an impact for Christ in all areas of life. EduDeo Ministries strives to assist the church in preparing Christians to live out their faith. Through our HANDS trips, Canadian Christians gain a deeper understanding of what it means to live as a follower of Jesus Christ in our world, both locally and internationally. There are many examples of people who first served internationally, and then were inspired to get involved in local mission initiatives as well.

Short-term participation in cross-cultural missions should also raise awareness of what long-term missionaries and the local body of Christ are doing in that country — ministry that their church may already, or begin to, support. Upon returning home, those who have participated in HANDS trips are encouraged to share their experience with their family, friends and community, inspiring others to be involved in different aspects of ministry as well.

Overall, the HANDS program offers its participants an exciting opportunity to live ‘missionally’ by impacting families and communities with the message of the Gospel. This impact extends far beyond the days of the trip itself, but serves as a living reminder that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ—in every culture, country, and context.

For discussion: Do you agree that short-term missions help us to live missionally both locally and internationally? If you have been on a short-term mission trip, can you share how it encouraged you to live missionally once you returned home? Perhaps you got involved in sharing the Gospel in your community in a new way, or even started a new project of your own! (such the creative fundraising project we recently posted about). As always we welcome your comments!

Comments:

Peter Scholtens
Nov 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

From a funding perspective, is sending people overseas the best way to give people a missional perspective?

What's the return-on-investment compared to other approaches?

Tim
EduDeo Staff
Nov 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Great question, Peter! There are many ways for people to develop a missional perspective; some which definitely cost more than others. Many people likely do not go on short-term mission trips with the sole purpose of developing a more missional perspective. However, it is often a result, and perhaps part of the motivation for joining teams. Participants often come back with a greater understanding of the needs in the world and many indicate a desire to continue reaching out to the needs of those around them even after they return. Others feel more comfortable serving outside their cultural context and find that the time on a HANDS trip builds their confidence for greater local engagement. For myself, my initial short-term mission trips led to long-term service in international mission and eventually to actively serving in full-time Christian ministry with EduDeo. For me, it was certainly worth the cost.

Peter
Nov 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Hi Tim - thanks for sharing your story. It's great anecdotal evidence. But I'm still curious whether there are other, more cost-effective ways of generating a missional worldview than sending people overseas, especially considering the costs to the people you're visiting.

Tim
EduDeo Staff
Nov 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Peter, granted a mission trip may not be the most “cost effective” way to develop a missional worldview. There’s much available one can read and numerous ways people can get involved locally which would promote a missional life. There are less costly ways to develop a missional life. But Peter, how does one really determine “cost effectiveness” and is it always necessary to be cost effective? Yes we are called to be stewardly with our resources, but we are also called to be faithful in serving Him, which means trusting in His provision and leading no matter what the cost.

Recently we had a team return from Africa so impacted by the experience that, as a group, they committed to raising substantial additional money. In addition, some members have begun volunteering locally and one is enrolled in a 15 week missions course. The trip has definitely increased team members awareness and commitment to living missionally. God called the members of the team to serve and through the trip they were challenged in their understanding of what it means to truly follow Him. Perhaps, once again, anecdotal, but clearly showing that a HANDS trip has increased participants missional perspective.

Finally I’m not sure what you mean by “considering the costs to the people you're visiting”. EduDeo works hard to ensure all the costs are born by those going and that something of value (in terms of relationships and finances) are left in the country after the team leaves.

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