As Americans, many of us are accustomed to going on short-term trips because of our freedom. Globally speaking, those of us born in the US have a degree of freedom and safety not found in a lot of other places. A passport gives us the freedom to leave and re-enter our home country without fear of being detained or denied re-entry. Most of us are free to work and speak as we choose, and we have the space to prepare for and pursue short-term mission trips.
To be in a position to have the time, energy, and finances to willingly choose to travel to another country—with the goal of learning and serving—is an incredible freedom…
It can be easy in development work to become paternalistic by coming in, assessing the situation, gathering resources, and dictating a plan of action. But this approach, in reality, only replaces one unfreedom, one type of poverty, with another. And desperate people in desperate situations may see no other alternative than to go along with the plan. However, it is incumbent upon us all to understand that poverty, at its root, is founded in unfreedom, and we must come alongside our brothers and sisters as they pursue their own dreams…
“I can’t imagine” is a phrase commonly expressed by team members on our short-term mission trips. “I can’t imagine putting my child in an orphanage. I can’t imagine refusing to care for my nieces and nephews if they needed me.”
Can you imagine?
Imagine living in a constant state of stress because there is never enough. Unexpected expenses are always emergencies. …You have little time and even less energy to consider the future or imagine alternatives. You struggle to fully engage with little moments of joy. You are enslaved to your daily responsibilities.
Those living in extreme poverty know this reality all too well.
Americans are typically familiar with freedom being built into the fabric of our country. We are free to go where we want, eat what we want, live where we want, say what we want, believe what we want, and worship where and how we want. The concept of freedom is an identifying marker of life in the US.
However, when we look at Scripture, we see that our human condition is that of slaves—slaves to sin, the law, death, and dark, spiritual forces. We sin because we are sinful; however, by the grace of God, there is freedom from sin. …
When we consider meals, we often think about the way they bring families together. As food is laid out, everyone gathers around the table, conversation flows, and families bond.
But traditionally, eating together has not been encouraged in India….
In an open air church sanctuary in Haiti, she walks over to me with a twinkle in her eye, seemingly holding in giggles. Taking both of my hands in hers, she positions each of her hands directly underneath mine. Before I know what she is doing, she swiftly pulls one hand from underneath mine, and gently smacks the top of my hand while erupting in a deep belly laugh. I begin laughing too, surprised by the quiet girl with braids in her hair. Though we cannot speak each other’s language, we spend the next five minutes taking turns trying to catch each other off guard with a swift movement of the hand. Her friends start to push her aside, eager to prove their own skills in the game, and the laughter starts to spread from one child to the next.