I’m about to embark on a week long mission trip to the far ends of the earth. That’s right, I’m heading ALL THE WAY across town down to South Seattle, for Summer Urban Ministries eXperience (SUM X). However, in the thought process leading up to the decision, quite a bit has gone through my mind.
Why do people want to travel far away to work on missionary work? As far as I know, even in America, there are quite a lot of people who are in desperate need of help. You can look to any large city and be guaranteed to find a large area of homeless, poor, and incapable kids and adults. If there is such a large problem here, then why would we want to travel to places like Africa to help?
One of the leaders for our group made the argument that while poverty and homelessness is a large issue in America, it is sometimes better to serve out of the country for two reasons: The poor in America usually have some kind of backup provided by the government, while some countries are much more barren, and also that serving in other countries would help deepen your personal faith. For the sake of argument, ignore the second remark and focus on the first. Is it better to help people in similar situations but in worse environments, as the people in better environments will get out of the rut faster? Or is it better to systematically help those closest to you first, making your way around and helping as many as you can?
Another issue that I have been thinking about is how to reach out to these different kids. It is a little bit like the “beetle in the box” argument. If you are not familiar with that theory: Emotions are something that an individual can feel. While others can observe that feeling, they do not know exactly what that feeling is. It is as if everyone has a box, and within that box, he/she keeps something they call a beetle. While everyone assumes everyone else has one, and that the beetles behave similarly, they do not know for sure. Similarly, I’ve heard about and of these conditioins, but I have never actually experienced them in any way. I can only imagine the results and the consequences of being in such a sate. Perhaps a better analogy is the “What is it like to be a bat?” argument. One philosopher posed this question. He stated that, perhaps with high enough technology, we may be able to simlate the feelings of flying, of eating, and of any other bat related activites. However, that does not answer the question. We only know what it feels like to have a bat’s abilities. However, how does a bat feel like a bat?
Perhaps I’ve deviated a little too much.