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“In my years as a journalist,” Kristof of the New York Times writes, “I thought I had seen a full kaleidoscope of horrors, from babies dying of malaria to Chinese troops shooting students to Indonesian mobs beheading people. But nothing prepared me for Darfur, where systematic murder, rape, and mutilation are taking place on a vast scale, simply based on the tribe of the victim. What I saw reminded me why people say that genocide is the worst evil of which human beings are capable.”

As a family man, I am limited in what I can do about the situation in Darfur. But I have to tell you that I wish I could do more than just give money to charity. I wish I could do more than sign a petition. And yes, I wish I could do more than just pray. I wish there was some Christian agency that organized short-term missions into the very heart of Sudan/Chad for three to four weeks at a time. Would it be risky? Absolutely. Might I be attacked, shot at? Perhaps. Would taking 3 or 4 weeks off from my job hurt my career? Would it mean time apart from the family? Yes. But I would go. If this agency was headed up by heads-up Christians who knew how to implement a truly effective program that would maximize mileage out of the short-term missionaries, I would go. Something in me yearns to do short-term missions, but the cutting truth is that most short-term missions are G-rated.They are catered to a youngish mindset, to families and college students. You do not go so much into the heart of darkness as you go to a place to do puppet shows and take lots of photos (including the obligatory shot of being surrounded by cute local children). Something tells me that there has to be a place for R-rated short-term missions trips. Don’t get me wrong. G-rated short-term missions are necessary, blessed, real instruments of light. But there has to be a more rigorous short-term missions trip for over-30 adults, into those pockets of darkness where real evil pervades.


I quick cursory look at short-term missions today reveals what a crock many of them are. There are cruise-mission trips (enjoy cruise trip, evangelize locals when ship docks at St. John’s, you give them tracts, they sell you t-shirt, everyone is happy); $3,000 mission trips to Australia for pre-teens; short-term mission trips to Asia where the major attraction is shopping and/or sight-seeing. The only thing you have to do to justify this all-expense paid vacation is show a nice slideshow when you return (the more obligatory shots of cute local children, the better), and sprinkle your testimony with nice religious cliches: i went there to bless, but I was the one blessed; God taught me how materially rich I am, etc. etc. etc. Etc.

I have a feeling I am not alone in how I feel. Everywhere, in fact, there must be adult men and women who wish they could do more than join touristy short-term mission trips they have outgrown long ago. Christians who read about Darfur and feel genuinely moved to do something about it, at personal cost, at true sacrifice, who truly wish for an anointed short-term missions agency they could commit to in Darfur, in similar pockets of evil around the world . Does such an agency even exist?



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