Missions Abroad Versus Missions at Home

25 Sep

Paul and I recently donated a few pairs of new shoes to be taken to orphans in Honduras. The children these shoes were for had never owned a new pair of shoes and many of them did not own shoes at all. The shoes were taken down to Honduras by a local radio station mission trip. One of the DJ’s for the station kept a blog of what happened on their trip. Her stories were extremely moving. However, after we donated those shoes and as I read her blog, I couldn’t help but think about the needs that aren’t being met in our own community.

Donating those shoes brought to mind a conversation I recently had with a former Department of Children and Families employee. She told me about a young boy who was brought in to the Department as the result of neglect. When he was first brought in, it took over a half hour to shower him clean because the grime was so embedded in his skin. His first few minutes in the shower turned the water to mud. Once he was clean, he was taken to a room that holds clothing for children brought into the Department. He was told he could pick anything. He was amazed.

“Anything, really?” he asked.

After some encouragement, he selected a pair of shorts and a polo shirt. But when he took the polo off the shelf he paused.

“It still has a tag on it,” he said, mystified.

“Yes, it’s new, no one else has worn it before,” the DCF worker told him.

“I’ve never had anything that no one else wore before,” the boy said, amazed.

As I put the shoes in the donation bin, I thought of that boy, who was from just across town. How many kids in our own community don’t have new shoes or shoes that fit? How many are in need right here? And yet, here I am donating shoes to be sent to kids abroad and totally failing to meet the needs in my own community. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why we are so enthusiastic to send missions abroad, but so lukewarm about helping those here in our own communities. I came up with two answers. First, we lack knowledge of the needs in our own community. Second, sending shoes abroad, and going on mission trips abroad, makes us feel more like we are doing something. Dropping shoes off to an organization down the road or volunteering at a local shelter just doesn’t have the same “wow” factor for us.

This experience has convinced me more than ever that I need to take more time to become engaged in my community and make sure that I am working to meet the needs in my community, not just giving to others abroad so I can feel good. Tomorrow, I am going to an event to learn more about how I can get involved and help a local homeless mothers shelter.

What can you do in your community to get more involved and meet the needs of those around you?

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2 Responses to “Missions Abroad Versus Missions at Home”

  1. Pam @ diy Design Fanatic September 27, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

    Our church fills up backpacks with food for kids who are on free lunch at school to take home on Friday. We go on Thursday nights to help fill them with food because many of the kids wouldn’t have any food all weekend. Our church has two locations: one is in a wealthy part of the county and the satellite location in in a much different area about 10 miles away. The principal of the school we send backpacks to is a Christian and let us know of the situation that many kids on free lunch didn’t have any or little food in the house on weekends. Otherwise, we might not have been aware of the need. Our church also has a few clothes closet giveaway once a month.

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