There is this side to mission trips that nobody really tells you about. I’m not entirely sure if I can explain it, but it’s just something you’re kind of forced to deal with. It’s something you experience as you gaze at row upon row of shacks, lean-to’s, and sad excuses for four walls and a roof, and you wonder, “What can we do to change this place?”
You think it again as you walk through the village and witness with horror the cesspit that provides the whole village with drinking water. And again when you’re greeted with outstretched hands as you get off the bus because the children have been hoping that whatever you have in your backpack will bring them some glimmer of hope. You came to build 16 houses but your heart doesn't want them to associate this with home. You came to build but you're being destroyed.
This question you ask yourself is the first question, but not the last one. Because as I have experienced, a “mission” trip is just as much about your heart being changed by God as it about loving indigenous populations in third world countries.
In the village of Diamante theres an admirable and cheerful young man named Carlos, he’s trying to work and study and hopefully someday earn a degree so that he can provide a better life for his family. Our church has come alongside him to help pay for school. We do this so that he knows we love him.
During our trip we learned that Carlos’ father passed away leaving him with the weight of providing for his family. In an instant Carlos’ dreams come to a crashing halt, in an instant our missions work seems to have been for naught.
It was no mistake that this happened during our trip, Carlos was at his lowest point when we saw him. He was no longer the flagship child of Diamante that we were going to rescue. He was a 13 year old man faced with the weight of being the provider of the house. God sent us to love him and share the gospel with him. Not through construction or any sort of humanitarian aid, those would only be band-aids to a festering wound. Our job became one of compassion, empathy, and Christ-filled love.
But we wouldn’t have had the platform in Carlos’ life to pour into him if we hadn’t built up the relational equity of paying for his school. On this trip we learned that missions was much deeper than a new house or school uniform, missions was entering into the brokenness of others. Missions is extending a hand and being willing to be pulled downward.
We built a lot of houses, fed a lot of hungry people, and healed a lot of wounds. But maybe one of the most significant things that happened in Honduras was that 80 plus people came to Diamante to tell Carlos “God loves you, and we love you, and we are going to hurt with you.” God showed us why we built those houses, because without laboring in love we couldn't have been able to love laboriously. The last question we asked was “What else could God use us to do?”
Let us do life together, growing closer to Jesus, and closer to each other, through stories and experiences from the people of our church. Join us as we begin a new series for the Advent season, beginning Tuesday, November 28.