Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day Two of Our Mission Trip

Day Two: if yesterday was more pensive than work-oriented, then today made up for it in spades. We tried the divide and conquer approach and ended up being conquered. The younger scholars went to a church building that is being converted into mission housing for future teams. From what I was told, they anticipate that it will only take 3 additional coats to totally cover the old paint that colored the walls. I was glad to hear that one thing they are struggling to cover up is a large printed “LORD” on one of the walls. As hard as they try, they cannot make that word disappear. Call me cheesy, but I think it’s cute and prophetic. We are forever piling things on top of our relationship with God. We pile our thoughts and ideas of how our lives are supposed to be unto our Lord. We throw our isms unto our Lord. We throw our religion unto our Lord. We toss all of our “stuff” over our Lord and the Lord still shines through, refuses to go away, and refuses to die out. The group has assured me that if the word is not covered by the fourth coat, they will just leave it there. I am secretly cheering for the “Lord”.

The other group tackled two yards full of trees. That group has managed to work five chain saws to the point of collapse. The chain saws quit before the people did. However, I did hear a great sigh of relief when I reluctantly announced that we needed to call it a day because the chain saws were failing us. I think the people were at their point of collapse as well.

So, at the end of the day, we took our motley crew to the mall and they shopped. They bought Crimson Tide hats. They bought shoes and socks. They bought shirts, belts and other nicks and knacks. But the one thing that I saw them taking away from the day, which they did not purchase at that mall in Tuscaloosa, was an affinity for one another and for the work they are doing together. So, tomorrow is another day and another opportunity for each of these young missionaries to be the hands, feet, and glory of the Lord. Oh yeah! And, pray that the “Lord” does not fade beneath the layers of paint that we call life.

I love you all. And, there is nothing you can do about it,


Monday, June 13, 2011

Mission Trip To Alabama

"What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy; and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

“If you are not prepared to be used, you are not prepared to serve.” This is what I tell members of my church all the time. It’s my way of helping them progress past the point of asking questions that are not conducive to helping others. It is my way of answering the question “What if they use the money to buy beer”. It is my way of answering the question “What if they are lying and don’t really have a need”. It is my way of answering the question “How do we make sure they really do what they say they are going to do as a result of us helping them”. Now, I don’t want you to think I am a mean pastor. I just don’t like to see my friends focus on things that are not important. I would rather they spend that time in service to others.

Day one of our mission trip to Alabama was pretty much standard for mission trips. There was a lot of trying to get organized. There was lot of trying to set rules and expectations. There was a lot of getting to know one another. And, surprisingly, there was a little work. And, as we returned from helping a family clear debris from their property, I heard a team leader complaining that “they have a pool” and “looks like they are pretty well off.” The team member then went on to suggest that we should try to find someone who “needed our help more”. I was shocked. I was appalled. I was taken aback. I could not believe that I had actually had the same thoughts myself. I was disappointed in myself. I had actually suggested in my mind that you have to be poor or needy to warrant people helping you. It was almost as if I needed to know that the people “really” needed my help in order to validate my helping. I was what I had warned others from becoming. I was so focused on what I needed from my act of service (a good feeling of being needed), that I forgot why I was supposed to be serving in the first place. I am ashamed to admit this. I am ashamed that I lost my focus. I am ashamed to admit that I was not what I expect my friends to be… willing to be used. I pray the Creator will forgive me for this, and allow me to recommit myself to the total service of others; all others. So, tomorrow I will return to complete my service to the kingdom, and rejoice in the gift that God has already given me; a better picture of me.

I love you. And, there is nothing you can do about it.