The most important question you can ask.

I love questions. I love asking questions. Many times a question can lead to another question. It is essential that we ask good hard questions about many things in the world, especially as it relates to short-term missions or any service work we are doing. Before we go, we need to ask good questions.

When we go on short-term mission trips, we tend to ask questions like

What do we need to do?

What kind of work needs to be done?

How are we going to serve?

How are we going to build the house?

What supplies do we need?

What organization are we going to work with?

What are the people like we are serving?

What can I do to be of service?

Will there be coffee? (If we are being real)

These are all good questions and questions that need to be asked at some point. We need to know the answer to these questions so that we are prepared when we go and serve. But there is one question we need to ask if we want to make a lasting impact when we go and serve. It is a question that typically does not have an easy answer. In fact, the answer is something that will require a long term commitment to the community, ministry, or organization we go to serve with on our trips.

The question we need to be continually asking is “why?”

Why are there orphans in Mexico?

Why is there slavery in Ghana?

Why are there immigrants fleeing Central America?

Why do generations of families continue to live in poverty?

Why is there still racism today?

“Why” is the most critical question we should be asking. Why causes us to get to the root of the problem so that we can solve these issues. But many times we don’t want to do the hard work to understand the deeper issues. We don’t want to dig below the surface to see why things are happening? Many of us would instead go and just build a house or go do a VBS, feel good about our selves and leave. All of the injustices in the world didn’t just happen. There is a reason why these things are happening? Generational poverty didn’t just happen. There is a reason why generations of families continue to be stuck in poverty, why?

We may not be able to solve the problem by going on short-term trips, but we will be better informed and educated when we go. We will have a greater capacity for empathy because we will better understand people’s plight and their daily challenges. We will know better how to pray for people. Asking the questions ‘why” helps us be better equipped to serve more effectively. 

Once we know why we can begin to do the hard work of making things right. But, would we instead put a band-aid on the wound and leave it for the next generation. Would we instead, just cover it up and hope it goes away? Would we instead go on a trip, just to feel good about ourselves than truly understand why? Let’s dig deep and at the very least ask good questions and understand the deeper issues of the places we to serve. 

Ask the most important question: Why?


2 thoughts on “The most important question you can ask.

  1. Thank you for this thought provoking article about digging deeper, that is a very important point; however I would like to suggest a more asset-based approach. You write, “We may not be able to solve the problem by going on short-term trips, but we will be better informed and educated when we go.” Many thought leaders in the area of majority world development (as i am sure you know) assert that true change only happens when individuals and communities are empowered to solve their own problems. If that is true, then those who go on trips should seek to understand, yes – but should also seek to support local people and organizations as they resolve issues. I think you probably agree with this based on your other blog posts; however your references to trip participants resolving the problems – even that they “may not be able to” – implies otherwise. Thank you for your blog, I have learned a lot from it.


    1. Hi Terri,
      Thanks so much for the comment. Yes I agree with your statement. The change should come from within the community as they know how best to solve many if not all of the injustices and may lack the needed resources to accomplish their task. If anything the short-term group is merley learning, supporting, and empowering the local community, coming along side them for the long-haul. I wasn’t implying that the Short-term group resolve the problem, but support the local individuals and communities. I can understand how that can be gleaned​ from the post. Thank you so much for engaging.


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