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The “They Need Me” Delusion

Greg Younger Flicker CC
Greg Younger Flicker CC

I spent a number of years in the world of Short Term Mission Trips. I don’t regret it. We worked with a long term focus, and in spite of many “learning” moments I trust that the Kingdom of God was advanced in the earth.

But I did have the opportunity to observe many interesting things about how Americans tend to view “the lost” and “the poor” and “the needy” in the world.

I remember preaching the Gospel of Jesus in an Indian village. The temptation was there to see the beautiful people in that village as helpless lost people that needed me to bring Jesus and save them.

I chose a different path. I chose to see each person whose eyes met mine as a brother or sister human being, equal to me in every way. I was just a Messenger. A Servant. I am not the Savior.

We Americans sometimes like to be “missionary tourists.” We like to go out and save those poor wretches in the rest of the world.

This little rant was inspired in general by my life experience and in the moment by this article over at

“I want to fill a rental van marked “Tourist” with unbelievably rich people and then I want to bring them to your middle-class neighborhood to take pictures of you and your kids and your house and your cars.”  [Read More]

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  1. When I visited India and went into slums, I had that tourist mindset embedded subconsciously in my head. However, when I actually met the people, hugged their babies, & ate their food I realized that they had it fine. Just because their situation wasn't ideal didn't make it "bad".

    After realizing that, I had some of the best times when our group visited the slums. (:

    • "I had that tourist mindset embedded subconsciously in my head."

      I think you get it! It is hard not to. Our whole culture emphasizes that we have it together and need to go help the unfortunates of the world.

      In part this is a noble thing. It just needs to be balanced with an understanding that we are not superior. In fact, we are the same. We all need Christ!

      I can't believe you ate food in a slum. 😉

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