Of Pentecost and Mission Trips

By Mark A. Taylor

We’re indebted to a faithful reader who wrote us last year to ask why Christian Standard included no mention of Pentecost, the birthday of the church. We agree with him that the momentous events recorded in Acts 2 should be remembered and celebrated.

The church represents God’s plan for proclaiming Jesus and keeping believers in fellowship with him. We who are the church seek to make it stronger and larger and more influential all in order to partner with God in his plan for our world. Our lives would be hopeless without the church. We should thank God for the church, especially on Pentecost Sunday, which is today.

If your church commemorates Pentecost Sunday, please drop us a note to tell us about it. Meanwhile, we’ll share the tongue in cheek final paragraph of our reader’s letter:

It may be wise not to let the world in on the significance of this day. Otherwise we could end up with Pentecost trees, Pentecost cards, Pentecost decorations, Pentecost gifts, and Pentecost sales. This could even lead to special services aimed at CEP (Christmas, Easter, Pentecost) Christians.*

We also expect some letters about this week’s article on short term mission trips. In fact, we seek them!

I suspect many readers have had life changing experiences on one or two week trips to serve with missionaries overseas. I certainly did!

When I traveled to visit a new mission on the other side of the world, the trip awakened a flood of overwhelming emotions and convictions that remain with me more than 25 years later. Thrust into the stew pot of new sights, unfamiliar smells, unusual food, indecipherable language, and difficult to grasp customs, I understood the meaning of “culture shock.” Considering the choice of this missionary and his family to live in this mystifying environment, I saw sacrifice and providence I had never encountered in middle class America.

And I think our trip conveyed the encouragement and direction the missionary so badly needed at that time. It accomplished something for him and his work as well as for me and my spirit! That’s the point. Benefits to the American visitor should always be the subordinate, not the central, reason for a short term mission trip.

This week’s author is not saying we should eliminate such trips. (Indeed, as he points out, this would be impossible.)

He’s only calling for a more thoughtful approach by those who plan and participate in such adventures.

And, as I mentioned above we hope you’ll share your thoughts on this issue!


*Thanks to Jack Schlieker, Denver, Colorado, for writing.

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