Are mission’s trips hurting those in need?

Mission’s trips can sometimes innocently be a method of hurting rather than helping if we do them for the wrong reasons.

The book When Helping Hurts touches on humble service and focuses on the impact of faith-based organizations trying to alleviate poverty. The book dives in deep explaining the root behind those who serve — some truly want to help those in need while others show up as if they are superior. The book talks about the importance of seeing how some may lack in resources, but we are equal when it comes to our brokenness.

“Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good.”

Before you head out on a mission’s trip or even just serving right where you are, read the book When Helping Hurts. It will guide you to better understand the relationship between spiritual and relational poverty and how we can encourage the materially poor instead of hurting them. The book is an important resource needed for self-examination and intentional service.

In an excerpt from the book, Mission expert Miriam Adeny relates a story told to her by an African Christian friend:

“Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, ‘Mouse, let’s have a party!’ Animals gathered from far and near. They ate, drank, and sang. And they danced.  Nobody celebrated more and danced harder than Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, ‘Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!’ But Mouse did not answer. ‘Mouse, where are you?’ Elephant called. He looked around for his friend and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant’s feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend, Elephant. ‘Sometimes, that is what it’s like to do missions with you Americans,’ the African storyteller commented. ‘It is like dancing with an Elephant.’”

Don’t be an elephant!

Listen to the stories of those you are helping. See their humanity as equal to your own and serve with a humble heart. Don’t relish in your ability to lend a helping hand while others are reaching out their hands in need. We only can help others through the grace of God and the power He gives in spite of our weakness. Use His power for good and acknowledge the source of your impact.

 See you in the mission field!

Sheri Postma, RN
Founder & CEO
Mission Partners for Christ