OPINION: Selfish Service 1

By Sara Marshall

Sara Marshall (Photo by Mike Ayers)

My life: a little different than your average American citizen. Five countries, nine cities, two states, five passports, hundreds of flights – that is a glimpse of my reality. I don’t want to come across as boastful and I don’t think my life is in any way better than yours, I’m just stating my different perspective on life. I grew up overseas because my parents were missionaries my entire life in South America. Through my experiences growing up, God has given me a passion for missions, cultures, people, helping those in need and sharing the gospel with others.

I have never been on a mission trip, but most of the time people laugh at me when I tell them that and answer, “Your whole life is a mission trip.” That may be a good way to describe it, but the reality is that I have never been on an orchestrated mission trip from start to finish. The trip that many times is a first for someone to leave their home country, the worries of “Am I going to have to live in a hut for a whole week?” “Will there be any running water?” “Will there be a plug-in so I can use my hair blow dryer?” “How will I go a whole week with out my cell phone?” You know, the important questions in life.

Many times I am challenged with individuals’ motives to go on short-term mission trips. I desire for everyone to gain a glimpse of what life is like overseas, but I struggle at times when I learn of the main reason of why someone went on a mission trip. Sometimes their motives seem very selfish.

Thoughts like “How will God change my life?” and “What experience am I going to gain from this and how will God use me?” are examples of this. It is not bad to want to be changed or used by God, but I would urge you to not let that be your most important reason. I would challenge you instead to think of the community you are going to serve. “How can God use me to serve?” “What is a practical skill that I could teach those in this community so that when I leave their lives might be just the smallest bit better off than when we arrived?”

Missions trip or no mission trip, may God use you to impact his kingdom and may you let him lead you in the plan he has for your life.

Sara Marshall is a senior public relations major. She can be reached at marshals@huntington.edu. This column reflects the views of the writer only.

One comment on “OPINION: Selfish Service

  1. Reply David Back Feb 21,2013 4:41 pm

    I agree with a lot of what you say. I wonder what effect do you think the way mission trips are marketed here in the united states has on people’s motives for going on mission trips? Also, how much do you think the cultural adjustment process impacts whole thing? I mean, the first phase of the cultural adjustment is being fascinated or in awe at all the new things going on in the culture that are different from one’s own culture.

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