Give a poor man a fish

Short-term vs Long-term mission trips

If you have never been on a mission trip, you may be asking should I go on a short-term or long-term mission trip?

I would encourage you to go on a short-term mission trip first, rather than a long-term trip.  Two-week mission trips, are about the right length for you to gauge whether mission work is right for you or not.  After all, you wouldn’t want to sign up for a months’ mission trip only to find that you are not cut out for it.

Both trips are impactful.  The following Chinese proverb can be attributed to both short-term and long-term mission trips:

“You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime”. 

This is a proverbial saying which we can use when we carry out mission work.  I believe that mission work should be to empower communities with the necessary tools so that they become self-sufficient rather than dependent.  In so doing, you are providing work for the locals who in turn give back to their communities.   This is of much greater benefit – the ability to work – than a one-off hand-out.

These communities will then be equipped to provide for itself – you, as a missionary, are then able to move on to help other communities.  Of course, they’ll be times when a natural disaster may occur such as an earthquake or tsunami which will mean going in, to rebuild communities and supply immediate aid to get them up and running again.

What each mission trip should encourage, is the fostering of long-term development instead of dependence.  This can be achieved in both short-term and long-term mission trips.

I have seen this effect in Jamaica, India and Kenya, through the organisations I joined to go on my mission trips.  They are now in a position to create new projects in other communities.

We are workers together in God’s service

As we carry out mission work, we need to bear in mind that we are workers together.  So we work with our partners rather than go in and do the work for them.  As mentioned before, this leads to self-sufficiency, which is our aim as missionaries – we are teaching communities ‘to fish’ rather than ‘giving them a fish’.

These practices will help us to channel our good intentions into wise actions that will have a lasting impact on communities.  Governments and leaders of the communities will feel a sense of ownership and a sense of pride about these projects as it has involved the local communities.  They are then more likely to improve and inject resources into these projects when that becomes necessary.
By thinking in terms of this Chinese proverb, we are creating a long-term, sustainable global impact.

What are your thoughts?  You may feel that only a long-term mission trip can achieve this goal.  I would love to hear from you!!.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.  I will get back to you.


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