To the Golden Shore Cover Image My wife and I have been reading through Courtney Anderson’s To the Golden Shore, a biography of Adoniram Judson. As I mentioned in my previous post on “hating Burmans”, I’m learning a lot from this man’s life and how God used him.

Last night a quote of his struck me with great force. This is a strong word, so I caution you before reading it. I hope the comments produce a conversation on this topic of Short Term Missions. Well, with very little context (first provided by Anderson), here’s what Judson said:

The opening of 1833 brought additional missionaries from the United STates – one of them Miss Sarah Cummings, an unmaried woman. Later there were to be accessions to the mission forces. But as usual, they could not be of much real use until they became fluent in the language; and that would be a matter of years. At least one of these had come out with the understanding that his service was to be for a limited period of years. Adoniram was disturbed, like all his experienced colleagues.

I much fear [he complained to the Corresponding Secretary at home,] that this will occasion a breach in our mission. How can we, who are devoted for life, cordially take to our hearts one who is a mere hireling?… I have seen the beginning, middle, and end of several limited term missionaries. They are all good for nothing. Though brilliant in an English pulpit, they are incompetent to any real missionary work. They come out for a few years, with the view of acquiring a stock of credit on which they may vegetate the rest of their days, in the congenial climate of thier native land… The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be “Devoted for life.” (Courtney Anderson, To The Golden Shore, Pg. 409. Emphasis present in Anderson.)

What do you think of Judson’s comments? Are they true for all short term missions opportunities? Is his grim outlook purely a reflection of the incredible hardship and difficult times in which he lived? Does he neglect the fruit of trips in the lives of the short termers themselves (and those back home)? Is this only true when the cultures and languages are so vastly seperated for missionaries?