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I used to tell people asking why I studied Russia that my interest sprang from volunteering with "an international program" in a Russian summer camp.

The "program" was an evangelical short-term youth mission trip. 20 years out I'm spilling the beans in my essay in this anthology
In the tweets below, I'll give you a little taste of my essay, "Now Defunct: Confessions of a Former Short-Term American Youth Missionary to Russia." Meanwhile, click on the link here to sign up to get a free excerpt from the anthology and pre-order info:

And now your promised teaser from "Now Defunct":

"I picked up the handset of the old-fashioned telephone and said, as we did in the days before smartphones, 'Hello?'

“'Khello,' I heard back, in heavily accented English. 'I am beautiful gir-rel. You want massage? Sex massage?'”
"How does a nineteen-year-old conservative Christian get into that sort of a situation? And why do evangelicals send high school—and even middle school!—kids, as well as college kids, all over the world to engage in expensive and shoddily executed short-term mission trips?"
If you want to find out, you'll need to get your hands on Empty the Pews: Stories of Leaving the Church, co-edited by yours truly and @laureneoneal and featuring @Frank_Schaeffer, @gayrodcon, Juliana Delgado Lopera, @NovicSara, @RubyThiagarajan, @peterbcounter, and more!
@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter Meanwhile, here's a little information on the Greenwood, Indiana based organization that organized these mission trips in 1999 and 2000. When I went, it was called OMS International, just initials. It had previously been "Oriental Missionary Society." Why go to just initials?
@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter It wasn't because they had come to understand that Orientalism is a problematic collection of racist tropes derived from an imperialist and colonizing Western gaze. Oh no, grasping that have made engaging in mission trips themselves a problem, and we couldn't have that!
@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter No, the reason Oriental Missionary Society became OMS is because their mission "expanded beyond the Orient," you see. That's how I recall it being explained to me. But evangelicals can be, in their odd way, both savvy with branding and willfully clueless about how racist they are
@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter In that vein, it's very interesting to note that OMS has since rebranded again, now as One Mission Society. And just look at their fancy website, with the boldfaced claim that "On average, one person comes to Christ every 31 seconds through the ministries of One Mission Society."
@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter I have no idea how they came up with that number and no particular inclination to call and ask them, but that ticker is really something. Never forget, kids, that #LyingForJesus was, is, and remains #HowToEvangelical.

#Exvangelical #ExposeChristianMissions #EmptyThePews #Exvies
@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter Want to read more about my experience "serving" with OMS in the 90s and aughts, which certainly did change the trajectory of my life profoundly? The first step is to submit your e-mail via this link to receive a free anthology excerpt and pre-order info:

@laureneoneal @Frank_Schaeffer @gayrodcon @NovicSara @RubyThiagarajan @peterbcounter Also, if you learn from me and value my work, I'd greatly appreciate you pledging a few bucks a month or more via @Patreon to help make it sustainable:


Please only pledge if you can afford to do so! Thanks!

#Exvangelical #SaturdayThoughts #EmptyThePews
*might have made
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