I have never been on a mission trip, though I’m passionate about overseas mission work. My diabetes kept me firmly stateside, within a reasonable traveling distance from my medical team, while my church friends went to faraway places and shared their faith while performing tangible acts of love, like building schools or churches. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel left out and like maybe I wasn’t being as effective a Christian as I should have been :-)
So, some of my favorite charity organizations have always been those that let you thoughtfully and prayerfully fill a shoebox full of Christmas gifts for little kids in very poor countries, or that let you pay to send animals or other life-changing gifts to families in these same countries in the name of a loved one.
I love the idea of giving a person or family the means to support themselves long-term so that they’re able to lift themselves out of poverty, rather than being given a gift of food or medicine that – while obviously life-saving and important – will run out. I’d rather give them the means to earn the money to afford these things themselves. And I have to believe that in general, those in the position to be on the receiving end of these donations would prefer the dignity in that as well.