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I was over at the Youth Ministry Exchange forum, and I saw a question that maybe has crept up in the minds of some people I know. The question is, “Why can’t you just minister at home instead of doing missions overseas?”

Of course, the context of the question was a youth worker being asked why they would take groups on mission trips and retreats and things, but it’s a question I have heard before as I was speaking in a church about our ministry in Latin America.

While you can’t base calling on need alone, it is a fact that there is a great need overseas. While I’m not convinced that most short term mission trips have a huge long term impact on the target culture, I am convinced that the environment of a short term overseas missions experience has long term impact on the short term missionaries.

In my personal experience, I would say that the fact that I am a long term missionary has a lot to do with a short term mission trip I took with my youth group and consequent short term trips I took. I have led numerous short term trips to Mexico, and I have seen God impact the lives of many young people through these trips.

Here are some reasons for doing missions in other cultures:

  1. Change of culture causes change in beliefs.
  2. Change of culture is obedience to God.
  3. Change of culture creates life-changing memories.
  4. Change of culture expands vision.
  5. Change of culture requires commitment.

Sure, short term trips to other countries cost a lot of money, but they have a different impact than only ministering at home. Both should be used in ministry to impact the spiritual growth of young people.