Have you heard of Steve Saint? I sure hope so. He’s the son of martyred missionary Nate Saint, who was one of four aviation missionaries killed by Auca natives in Ecuador. Steve lived among the Auca with his aunt Rachel and Elisabeth Elliot, one of my heroes of the faith, from the age of 10. He was baptized by two of the men who had killed his father shortly after they trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.
Today, he builds amazing things, including flying cars, at his company, I-TEC.
Chris read The Great Omission recently. This is what he had to say about it.
Maybe We’ve Got it All Wrong.
Many of us have been involved in missions in some way or another. Whether we have supported missionaries for many years or even had the opportunity to be a part of a short term mission trip. The country you went to is sometimes dictated as to where in the US you grew up. For me, I went to Mexico. I’ve been down to Mexico on mission related trips 3 times if I remember correctly, maybe even 4. We would fly down to San Diego and then drive across the border into Mexicali or Tijuana. Once in Mexico we would set up tents at a camp site and then go each day to a village where we would lead a VBS, build something and do a sports ministry. From people I’ve met from around the country this is pretty much what everybody else’s experience is as well.
Steve Saint looks into these actions and shows that we really aren’t hitting the point. We have created not so much a mission of sharing the gospel with people and then discipling them into maturity in Christ so they can then go and do likewise, but rather something of a welfare system. Many of the villages that we went to in those Mexico border towns simply withheld doing projects because every year for a few months thousands of teens would come down into their country and perform tasks for them and take up all of the costs as well. And because each group only stayed for a week there was sometimes overlap as to what was going on. The last time we went down to Mexicali we heard from a Mexican pastor that the exterior of their church had been painted three times in two months by three different groups that came to work with them.
We know that this isn’t how it is supposed to work but we really don’t know how to involve ourselves in such a way so as to know what to do about it. This is where The Great Omission comes in. Steve does a great job of using past experience and scriptural wisdom to discuss what things should be happening or at least what things need to be changed in some cases. I’ve now looked at missions very differently than I used to and ask myself certain questions before I get involved in missions in any way. I want you to read the book so I’m not going to specify what those questions are right now.
The truth of the matter is that many of us neglect the fact that we are all missionaries in our own towns and so end up caricaturing it into something else so that we will “know what it looks like.” We find it hard to believe that the 15 years we’ve spent employed at some company talking to coworkers and seeing one of them come to Christ is actually mission work. Of course some are called to do roughly the same thing in another country but that doesn’t make their work any more or less important than ours. We tend to think it is though and then we start creating it into something which can start to forgo its original intent and turn it into providing services which people become dependent on and never have the chance to operate on their own.
Most of the book looks at missions in the third world, but it still applies everywhere to some degree or another. This is all information I will try to bring with me so I can be sure that my influence is pointing people to Christ and not reliance on Americans with money and technology.