It's been 9 months since I first started promoting my school's mission trip to Cambodia this coming summer. It is my third time personally going and the school's second time sending high school students. The first time we went in 2017, we raised money and prepared for the trip in 9 months. I decided after that trip to give families over a year to plan for this kind of financial endeavor. Turns out, whether it's 9 months or 13 months, the stress is the same. In both scenarios, I couldn't alleviate the necessity of faith on God's provision and not on my own planning. I wrongly assumed that more time would mean more time for students to find funding. However, starting two weeks ago I found where my faith led me, well it was my doubt, but God works in-spite of our failures.
I've wrestled for years with the money spent on short term mission trips. Wouldn't the money be better spent as a donation? Instead of spending $3,000 on a ten day trip, should we just give this money to the organization? The reality is that this money would not have been given to each student if it hadn't been for the purpose, which was to send them to a foreign country to participate in God's kingdom work. To simply give away the money given that is not our own, is an apple to orange comparison. Without the purpose of us going on the trip, friends and family would not be donating money. In the end, going on short term mission trips is simply pulling resources together that would not have been spent on the mission field otherwise.
"Without the purpose of us going on the trip, friends and family would not be donating money."
The benefit of taking teenagers out of their comfort zone to a foreign land is worth more to the organization's supported than just sending a check of $3,000. The personal connection of teenagers interacting with other kids and teenagers is fundamental in the spiritual growth of both parties involved. Is there a practical need for money, always. However, when there is cross-cultural connections made, especially when there is a language barrier, the actions of joy and love are most apparent. When you can't communicate to a child that you care for them, you have to show it with your face and with your actions. We underestimate the physical presence of ministry when we take teenagers on short term mission trips. Teenagers live and breathe culture and it's the cross pollination of culture that the gospel thrives on.
"The benefit of taking teenagers out of their comfort zone to a foreign land is worth more to the organization's supported than just sending a check of $3,000."
Back to this years fundraising, I was very discouraged when it came to thinking about the amount of money each student and leader needed. It seemed that half my team was unsure about their finances. I remember asking myself, "Is this what God wants me to do? Have I missed something?" If no one is able to find the money to go, we can't go. Two weeks ago I saw a change in the atmosphere of my team. Money started coming in from random places. Friends, family, co-workers started giving to the trip and then I got my first fully funded member. Now I have four fully funded team members. Over a two week time span, I went from feelings of doubt and failure to God's overwhelming hand of assurance. For whatever reason, he wanted me to get to the end of myself of recognizing that I'm not the one that is making this trip happen, God is. I'm just the instrument and I can't take credit for how God is working through the lives of my team members going.
In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz
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Here is more information on Rapha House, the organization we are connecting with in Cambodia.
If you would like to support my team of twelve teenagers and five adults going to Cambodia from Northwest Christian School, please visit our group fundraising page.