Note: I wrote the following book review for The Presbyterian Outlook. The review was published in January 2019.
“It was a life-changing trip!”
So goes the all-too-common refrain of those returning home from a short-term mission experience. Perhaps the trip has challenged paradigms or broadened perspectives. Maybe it has suggested a need for shifting priorities or reallocating financial resources. Regardless, the rush of the post-trip enthusiasm tends to fade quickly upon reentry to the daily grind of life, and often, this reversal leads to the painful realization that what was once described as life-changing ended up changing far less than imagined or hoped for.
In his new book After the Trip: Unpacking Your Crosscultural Experience, veteran trip leader Cory Trenda suggests that we have cheapened the phrase life-changing by using it before any change has taken root. He surely speaks from experience, having led hundreds of crosscultural trips in his work for the World Vision organization. He has learned over the years that a more faithful response to those asking about his experience on any given crosscultural encounter is to humbly say “I hope and pray to God that my trip becomes life changing.”
This becomes the focus statement and guiding principle of the entire text, and Trenda spends the rest of this highly-accessible book describing best practices for post-trip reflection. He demonstrates that true life transformation arises not from strong pre-trip planning or even a well-executed trip itself – although those things are certainly important! – but rather out of the prayerful reflection and decisions made after returning home. The most critical component of any crosscultural encounter is actually what happens when the trip ends; unfortunately, it usually receives precious little attention from busy trip leaders.
[Click Here] to read the rest of the book review over on The Presbyterian Outlook website
Trenda, Cory. After the Trip: Unpacking Your Crosscultural Experience. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press, 2018.
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