After Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America in 1998, hundreds of volunteer mission teams descended on Nicaragua and Honduras. Many came from churches in the United States. At times the region’s threadbare airports were filled with herds of North Americans wearing T-shirts with slogans like “Jesus for Honduras,” “Mission to Nicaragua 2000” and “Christ Loves Central America.” Ushered past beggars into waiting vans, these churchpeople embarked on an adventure of solidarity that marks a shift in how we understand mission.
The concept of sending mission teams for short-term work has grown increasingly popular in U.S. congregations. People are not excited about sending their dollars off to faceless mission agencies; they want to become personally involved. Encouraged by the testimony of others who have had a life-changing experience in a Third World country, they want to “do mission” themselves.