The following is an excerpt from Successful Mission Teams: A Guide for Volunteers by Martha Van Cise (New Hope Publishers, 1999) Excerpt from pages 145-147. A good book, definitely worth owning.
“When my husband and I were serving as full-time missionaries in Haiti, we took a group of volunteers to a remote area in Northern Haiti. Another missionary, who had spent nearly 30 years in the country, accompanied us because he knew the area and the congregation.
During the team’s stay, volunteers put up walls for a new church, gave their testimonies in church, and gathered each evening for a devotional and songfest with the local people. On one occasion, the team visited an American missionary couple who manned a transmitter for a Christian radio station. By the end of the tour, team members were excited about sharing missions in their home church.
On the way back to Port-au-Prince, …, one middle-aged woman said, ‘This has been a wonderful experience. I guess that I just have one regret. I brought several packages of gelatin to give to a missionary family, but I never did get to meet a real missionary. I really had my heart set on meeting a real missionary.’ …
Another visitor returned home to report the truth about what was happening in a mission organization. ‘Those people weren’t spiritual,’ he said. ‘Some nights the missionary families got together and watched videos that had no religious content in them at all.’ …
Some team members feel responsible to evaluate the performance of mission organizations and missionaries and report their findings to anyone who will listen.
Assessment of mission work made by team members are often inaccurate because regular field activities must be curtailed in order to care for the team. Furthermore, team members who who are trying to photograph the work of the missionaries forget that everything which is accomplished on the field cannot be photographed. …
Few missionaries will ever measure up to the ‘real missionary’ image some volunteers bring to the mission field. In the past, missionaries could live up to the ideal image because their contact with supporters was limited to one or two hours during speaking engagements while on furlough. When supporters move in with the missionary for ten days, however, the true missionary is revealed. The realities of modern-day missions and missionaries often disillusion volunteers.
If mission teams are to be an effective link between the home church and the mission field, team members must go to the field with a realistic understanding of the modern missionary movement.”
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