by Bucky Rogers
Founder and Executive Director of Benjamin House Ministries
Living in a third-world country for 3 years now and having gone on about 20 mission trips in my life, I’ve learned some valuable lessons….mostly from making mistakes. One of them is that unless mission trips are intentionally done right they do much more harm than good, and in more ways than one.
So, here are my four reasons you should never go on a mission trip again. NEVER go on a mission trip again if:
NEVER go on a mission trip again if:
1. You think you’re ready to change someone’s life. This may seem odd, but we see it soooooooo often. This mindset is called "a Savior complex" and I’ve seen so many teams soaked in it. Thankfully, we have been blessed with pretty strong teams as Benjamin House Ministries, but I also get to interact with a lot of mission teams from other areas and with other organizations and see them on the Kampala Expatriates page on Facebook. Honestly, it can be nauseating. Blog posts are written by a mission team member chronicling how they were able to single handedly bring a smile to an utterly hopeless child. Or listing how many people “they’ve” saved. Even posting posed pictures to make the situation look more dire than it really is. You’re not here to save anyone, change anyone. It's actually very demeaning to go into another culture with that kind of mindset. A family of 6 living in a mud hut may seem desperate to many in western culture, but it is very normal and comfortable for many here. Instead of coming in to change people, be willing to come to learn, to grow, introduce people to the ONE who does change people, and be prepared for it to change you.
2. You’re not willing to be uncomfortable. Everything about a mission trip is uncomfortable for a western mindset. Be willing to eat and drink whatever is offered to you. Know that your tummy is gonna be upset at some point and you’ll have stains from mud (or other substances) on your clothes more often than not. Be willing to pick up a child who smells awful without making a disgusted or disgruntled face. Walk through places and experience things that are a reality for millions without being judgmental or turning your nose. Instead of getting grossed out by the fact that Ugandans love Nsenene (fried grasshoppers), politely say, "No thank you," or try one rather than dismissing their preferred tastes. People will stare, people might mock, people may laugh, they could even reject you or Jesus, but you have to be ready for and ok with that. What is a little discomfort in comparison with eternity?
3. You want to post about your trip hour-by-hour to draw attention to yourself and get praise from people back home. Although I don’t know whether people knowingly do this, it does happen. And when people start praising you for the good work you’re doing, it can get easy to begin to believe them. Humility sometimes means you do good things because they need to be done, without anyone else this side of heaven ever knowing you did them. Does that mean you shouldn’t update people back home about progress? Of course not. But take care to always frame it in terms of what God is teaching you and allowing you to experience.
Humility sometimes means you do good things
because they need to be done,
without anyone else this side of heaven ever
knowing you did them.
4. You’re expecting everyone else to sacrifice in order to send you with no sacrifice of your own. Fundraisers are great. They allow people who may not be able to go on mission to participate with you. Missions offerings that cover part of a trip cost are great. They allow the body to be the body. Friends and family standing with you as you go is great. It allows a piece of them to go with you. But please be willing to also make a great sacrifice in order to go on mission. It needs to cost you something. Whether that’s your Friday morning Starbucks all year long, or your vacation, or having to drive that beater car another 6 months before you look for a replacement. Sacrifice something.
If you’re willing to have your life changed, to be uncomfortable at times and be okay with it, to allow all praise to go to the ONE who deserves it all, and to personally make a sacrifice, you’re ready to come on mission. And oh what a glorious mission it is. There is nothing better than being with the Lord and seeing Him work miraculous things in people’s lives, even your own. You’ll never be the same. And that’s a pretty great thing.
by Brooke Martin
Child Sponsor and 2016 + 2018 BHM short-term missionary
I didn't know...
I didn't know when we were obedient to God's call to sponsor a child that our monthly donation would be more than just helping a child and their family. I didn't know when Jacob and I prayed for the Lord to show us which child He had in mind, what other plans He had in store. For almost two years, we've sponsored Karim. We've enjoyed letters, a Facetime call, Facebook Messenger conversations. We've prayed for him and loved him from the other side of the world. We longed for the day when we could finally meet.
I didn't know when the day actually came, what would happen to my heart. I didn't know that he would take a boda taxi all the way to Katanga slum and track me down so he could meet me earlier than I expected, that he would have a birthday gift for me, that he would be so much taller than me, and that it would make my heart feel the way it did when I finally got to give him a hug.
I also didn't know that he would ask me if it was okay to call me mom and Jacob, Papa, and if Bella and Layla could be his sisters, and if he could change his last name to Martin.
I didn't know when I bought him a milkshake that it was the first one he'd ever had, or that he would be sick when I got to Uganda, and I would be able to check his head for a fever and make sure he had medicine.
I didn't know when we were obedient to sponsor
that we would gain a son.
I didn't know when we were obedient to sponsor that we would gain a son, that it would hurt so bad to leave. He gets to go to his first prom, and I wanted to leave more than money for it. I want to be there to help him pick out a suit and take pictures of him with his date.
I didn't know when I hugged him for the last time at the airport, if he knows how much I really love him and how much it hurt to say goodbye. I didn't know if he realized how much I wanted him to get on the plane with me and come home to our family.
Thank you, Lord, for showing me what I didn't know before. Thank you for Karim and for his presence in our lives. Father, help him feel our love for him from across the ocean. Protect him and grow him closer to you, Lord. Thank you for your goodness and mercy. Amen.
by Alli Kennedy
BHM 2018 Short-Term Summer Missionary
there is a school
Where hundreds of children greet our group
with warm affection
at the last classroom I desperately try to hold back the flood of tears that have been rising to my eyes
And for a moment I don’t hear anything
I just see her
Dancing and smiling
Freezing in time
“Alli, can you spot your child?” Our translator Jackson asks
I nod excitedly and point at her
Her eyes light up and we both run towards each other kneeling into an embrace
She places her little hand in mine
never letting go
we ride to Katanga
her only response to my hundreds of questions along the journey a shy little “yes”
When we arrive
She leads me through beaten dirt paths
As if to say “let me show you my home”
as she pulls me along
She looks back at me with bright eyes
and a grin from ear to ear
with two little teeth missing from the bottom
she is the contrast of beauty
In this hell
In this slum
with a river of sewage
rising from rainfall
walls start closing in as Esther leads me
To her home
Her grandmother greets me and welcomes as many of us that can fit into her home
her house is the size of my bathroom
only a curtain separating the bed from the living area
She tells me
Esther’s mother cannot care for her
because of the mental challenges she faces
she has been taken advantage of several times of so no one knows Esther’s father
her grandmother is aging
Their only hope has been through sponsorship
For Esther’s school, clothes, water, and food
and in that moment
I feel peace
I also feel absolutely horribly helpless
I want to save her from the hell she lives in
I want to take her into my arms and run away to safety
I want her to know love
I want her to know the love of my Father
it takes everything in me to not break in that moment
We walk to lunch holding hands
My friends swinging her in between us
She sits with us and laughs and laughs
Her sweet giggles bringing joy to everyone around the room
Her dances inspiring claps and videos
She makes silly faces at us
Her goofy personality on full display
She asks for my water and tries to drink it
All at once
I stop her for breaks
This is probably the most water she’s ever had to drink at once.
My heart sinks
I try to hide my tears from her
Beneath a smile
but it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.
We walk along back to her home
I know our time together is short
But to her little mind, this lasts forever.
This is it.
This is the end of her suffering.
and I can’t take that from her
I just can’t.
When we reach the bus, I get on my knees to meet her eyes and her smile fades
Like she knew the dream I was about to steal away from her
Jackson tells her she has to go home and we’re leaving for the day
I can see her little heart drop.
she lets go of my hand
I coax her back into my arms and she stands still
“Hey, I love you sweet girl” I whisper to her
A blank stare haunts me
From eyes that had shined so bright
I step away from her and wave
she turns her back to walk home
and as her little feet carry her away from me
the dust churns as we drive away.
She fades into the horizon of Katanga.
Esther is just one of many children that live in Katanga with a story like this. Sponsorship can be the only hope for some children to go to school and to have meals and clean water. A year ago, a post from my friend, Waverly McCall, convicted me of how much I was spending on food and extraneous items when I could be changing the life of a little girl in Uganda. I never thought in a million years I’d be able to meet her and cherish her for even a short time. She has rocked my whole world and shown me how to love in a way I never knew how. If you are interested in sponsoring a child and forever changing his or her future, please check out Benjamin House Ministries and the wonderful things they’re doing in Uganda.
by Kimberly Henderson
Sometimes it takes being broken ourselves to get us to the point that we will willingly minister to those who are broken around us.
Take yesterday for example. As I stepped out of our van to head into church, my shoes fell to pieces. Literally. Pieces. Right there in the parking lot.
First, I lost both heels in huge chunks. Then smaller, crumbly pieces followed suit. It was the craziest thing. I had to walk carefully and a little tip-toey so I didn’t leave a huge mess with every step. But even with me walking with the greatest of care, I had to pick up pieces of my sole as we made our way in and as I made my way to and from the stage for choir.
We “just happened” to have visitors at church yesterday. People from Benjamin House Ministries, a ministry doing incredible work in Uganda. And what did they have with them in order to raise money for and awareness about their ministry?
Not just t-shirts.
Not just beautiful handmade necklaces and bracelets.
They had shoes.
The ones you see pictured above.
Shoes I was able to purchase and slip on my feet between services. Shoes and a shirt purchased with money that will now be sown back into the lives of people in Uganda.
And I can’t quite get over it. How God met me in my place of need and, in doing so, allowed me to help provide in a small way for people in their place of need.
Would I have stopped at their booth and given anyways? Maybe so. I hope so. But it was the brokenness I was walking in that made it a certainty.
How thankful I am that He let those shoes break exactly when they did. I want to remember He is a God who meets us in our brokenness. A God who tenderly helps us pick up the pieces of our soul. A God who takes those broken places, leads us to a place of healing and then allows us to minister out to others.
May we trust Him with our broken places-expecting Him to lovingly and powerfully meet us in them, knowing He can bring beautiful purpose out of pain. And may we become faithful and humble partners in His ministry of hope and wholeness. Because we have a world that is deeply hurting and is in desperate need of hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Summer 2017 Short-Term Missionary
We began our ministry that day by washing feet. Layers and layers of dirt... As I scrubbed the bottoms of their feet, they were not even ticklish. Their feet, just like their hearts and eyes, were hardened and void of feeling.
I won't lie... I caught myself thinking what's the point? What will washing these dirty feet accomplish? They will be dirty again in minutes.
Covered in scars and open wounds, I began to see their feet as a beautiful, sorrowful depiction of the lives they live. Hard, dirty, unfeeling, scarred, and wounded.
God revealed to me that the washing was not only for them, but for me. I needed to see their filth, their pain, their scars, their wounds. I needed "the eyes of my heart enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18), because I was just as dirty, scarred, and wounded before I found Christ. Those feet represent all our lives before Christ, and thankfully Christ does not look at us and say, "What's the point? They will sin again." No, lovingly and patiently, He washes us clean over and over again.
Thank you Jesus for your never-ending and never-failing salvation that washes us white as snow.
Bucky Rogers, Benjamin House staff, and short-term missionaries