OPINION: Vulnerability required in missions work

 

Over spring break, I had one of the most amazing experiences I could have imagined. I got to travel to an orphanage in Despinos, Haiti, for nine days with my five best friends and six new friends. Eleven of us are students at Malone. The Malone students that went included Amber Neading, Amanda Brothers, Jenna Carmichael, Brooke Smalley, Karen Cummings, Ezra Tkach, Thomas Watt, Kelsey Ciha, Brittany McCue, Kaleb Esber and myself.

Keirsten Finnicum, pictured here with Haitian boy Mardoche, is a senior psychology major. (Photo courtesy of Keirsten Finnicum)

Before this trip, I had never thought much about what short term missions looked like. I had never been on a missions trip, or even overseas, but my perception was that we would go there, do some work, play with kids, then come home.

The idea of opening yourself up for one week and leaving can be very hard to wrap your mind around. It is something that I struggled with as soon as I walked into the orphanage and a four year old boy, Mardoche, ran into my arms.

As soon as this little boy looked into my eyes, my heart melted. I remember going back to the team house and realizing that in eight days when I had to come back to America, my heart would be ripped out when I had to leave Mardoche and the other kids.

The love I received from the kids at the orphanage was the deepest love I have ever felt from people. It was the kind of love that was incredibly vulnerable, because there was a chance I would walk out of the orphanage and never return.

I knew that because of this, I had to be vulnerable back, or else I would not be able to love them effectively, and that was a risk I did not want to take.

For me, the decision to give my all was an easy one, because I knew after the first day that this was no longer short term. I want to go back to Haiti and watch Mardoche grow up and hopefully move there one day.

Finnicum wants to go back to Haiti and watch Mardoche grow up, and hopefully move there one day. (Photo courtesy of Keirsten Finnicum)

Personally, I do not believe that I will ever participate in short term missions, because I would rather invest in one community and work with one group of people, than travel different places for only a couple of weeks at a time and then leave.

I do, however, know people who feel differently. Some people desire to see the world, and they experience God by viewing different cultures, places and people.

I believe that when this happens, though, it is very easy to build a wall that would not allow the vulnerability I mentioned earlier. Don’t get me wrong: I do think that short term missions can have benefits, but they just aren’t for me.

I think that Amber [Neading] made a good point when she told me that we had to be aware that we are not the hope the world needs. Even our hardest efforts will not stop poverty, starvation or bring justice to the world. We can however, bring the hope of Christ.

Whether missions are short term or long term, the hope of Christ can be spread. Planting the seed doesn’t mean you always get to watch it grow, and that’s perfectly okay.

I was able to show those kids love, but they showed me so much about who God is. People who had nothing worshiped and praised God in a way I had never seen. They saw His goodness and radiated it. The joy they had changed my heart.

[pullquote]I came away from the trip realizing that I was the one who had been changed. [/pullquote]I feel incredibly broken after my time in Haiti, but I am so blessed because I have gotten to fall in love with a beautiful place and beautiful people, and do so with my best friends. My experience of Haiti was completely different than what I expected, and I couldn’t be happier. Instead of a quick experience, my life and the plans I had are being completely redirected.

The call God places varies from person to person. Some are called to visit a place and leave, others are called there to stay. No matter what, I have complete faith that God can use people to impact a life in one or two weeks the same way a person can in 30 years. My view can be summed up by 1 Corinthians 3:6—I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

Keirsten Finnicum is a senior psychology major.

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