An inside view on short-term missions

Narayan Núñez Blandon-Staff Writer

On Thursday, Oct. 24, students and faculty members gathered to listen to Nicaraguan senior Marcelo Largaespada lead a talk on short term missions for the Students Without Border’s (SWB) second Cultural Engagement Series event.

Largaespada is a senior business administration major from Nicaragua. During each summer of high school in Nicaragua, he was able to work with more than 200 missionaries who went to his home country. Throughout his experience of participating in mission programs, he has been able to determine some of the correct attitudes that people should have when approaching missions.

On his talk, titled, Insider’s View on Short-Term Missions Projects, Largaespada mentioned the impact that short term missions has on the missionaries and on the communities that are reached. He also provided advice on preparing for mission trips.

At the beginning of his talk, he clarified that he does not believe that short mission are necessarily bad because they provide a lot of benefits for the missionaries and the communities despite the some of the existing inconveniences and wrong attitudes.

“In my experience the actual ‘action of  the doing part’ is not the most impactful or life changing part of missions: I definitely think the relationships that are built and maintained are far more valuable than the number of soccer balls given out in a community…” Largaespada said.

Largaespada emphasized on the attitudes behind short term missions and how they could be correct or incorrect.  He highlighted how some churches focus on quantity of work or people converted rather than the quality of the things they are doing.

During the talk many students and staff also participated by asking questions, sharing comments or personal experience. Some students who have been considering going for mission trips shared how the talk helped them have a better understanding on the attitudes one must have for the missions.

Junior Chase Viss, who has previously gone to Nicaragua for a short term mission, thinks the talk was interesting, especially when Largaespada compared short term missions to Christian tourism. He thinks that Largaespada did a good job on emphasizing on meeting the needs of others by establishing long-term relationships with the supported communities.

“To an extent we can be guilty of that when we go somewhere because we want to see what it is like and experience different part of the world, but we do not always have the intention of helping (the communities) in their deepest needs. Instead we want to feel like we are doing something when we are not accomplishing too much,” Viss said.

Largaespada concluded that there should be a shift in viewing missions. Instead of viewing missions a project, it should be viewed as a partnership:  focusing on the people and less on the results or the numbers. He mentioned that long term commitments, such as going to the same place multiple times to develop relationship, and having the heart and the appropriate motivations, should be some of the correct attitudes for missions.

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