I have a conflict churning in me, and I just have to talk it out! It’s about the new wave of “safe missions,” you know, the desire to experience God, to be exposed to what He is doing around the globe, to peek at the needs in other countries, to actually see how God provides and makes beautiful things out of dust… but without any risk. In other words, a controlled, informative, short term “experiencing-God-on-our–own-terms” trip. Don’t believe there is such a wave? Behold, a compilation of requests I have received from potential short-term missionaries:
- an English speaking community for me to hang with
- weekends off for “me time”
- no living with nationals
- hot water every day
- no in country traveling alone
- a 9 to 5 work schedule
- a work plan that allows for a trip home for Thanksgiving, Christmas & birthday (in a 12 month period)
- an international phone plan
- no going to any area with diseases
- no eating weird foods
- missionaries at my beck and call 24/7
Yeah, I gotta just say it right out loud, there is nothing left to “experience” if you try to box up God. Maybe there is a new definition of missions that I am unaware of, but for as long as I’ve been alive, missions have been messy, unpredictable, uncomfortable, stretching, challenging, and awe inspiring because when you finally get out of the way, He reveals Himself so powerfully! Missions have always been: here is my life Lord, not sure how you are going to use it, but please do! It’s a day-by-day dependency on God, with very little knowledge of what is going to happen, but a whole lot of faith that something will!
I hate to say it, but North America has been infested with the worst epidemic, fear of the unknown. Fear to depend on anyone other than ourselves. So we only do what we are “gifted” in, surround ourselves with that which we understand and can predict. I’m not pointing fingers, I have to denounce the fear in me daily, but once I do…when I totally depend on God…that’s when real fruit is seen! Here is the truth: missions is stripping yourself of yourself, depending on God, going to the unlovely places, embracing the awkward, uncomfortable moments so that ALL can see the glory of God, and so that NO ONE can boast.
Why do I bring this up, you might ask. I bring it up because I’m so sad that we have been partnering with Jhonny Anderson and Lucy Lancheros in Colombia, and we can’t get a team to invest in what God is doing in and around them. Do we want to experience God, or plan an event and ask God to join? Colombia is a guaranteed GOD experience! Please read the following article written by Lisa Merritt. She went to Colombia this summer because we knew that if ANYONE could inject some enthusiasm in a project, it would be Lisa. Here is what she saw and felt:
Imagine what it would be like…
… to not have access to clean water.
… to have the walls of your house made of rugs that were found on the street.
… to have a roof that leaked on your bed every time it rained.
… to not have access to an education, healthcare, or work.
… to be six years old and dealing drugs, so you can have something to eat.
… to have the responsibility to care for your younger siblings at the age of 12 because your mother has cancer.
If this was my reality, I would feel utterly hopeless. Unfortunately, this is the reality for some of the people I met in the community of Santa Cecilia. Santa Cecilia is located in the mountains of northern Bogota, Colombia. This past July, I had the privilege of visiting Colombia to see how Inca Link could come alongside the local church and partner in ministry. Everywhere I went, I heard the same thing—We have God-size dreams, but are lacking resources to accomplish these dreams.
When I arrived in the nations capital, my preconceived notions of this populated city—9+ million people—started to change. As I gazed out the car window, probably looking much like the typical tourist, I realized that the stories of danger I had heard about Colombia were exaggerated. By the end of my time in Colombia, I was surprised at how beautiful Colombia was, how loving the people are, and how safe I felt throughout the whole country. I was falling in love.
After meeting with several pastors throughout the city, and hearing about their dreams and needs for their churches and communities, I saw a treasure in these people that I hadn’t seen in a while. In the midst of all their desperation they had hope. There was hope that God would provide for their every need and dreams. There are people like Jhonny Anderson who refuse to lose hope that people will fall in love with Colombia and reach out to help. Lucy Lancheros also refuses to lose hope and is allowing God to do some amazing things through her in the meantime. She has been reaching the children in Santa Cecilia for a few years now—giving out of her own personal resources. Lucy serves faithfully as she cooks, teaches, and cares for all the children that come to the soup kitchen in Santa Cecilia. She has a connection with some of these kids that is unexplainable, especially with Lukas. Lukas is a 19-year-old ex-gang member who Lucy showed unconditional love to through the years, and he is now walking with the Lord.
Lucy is just one person, bringing hope to those in her community. Jhonny is just one person. You are just one person, as I am just one person. When I left Colombia, I promised Lucy that I would tell everyone I could about the needs, beauty, desperation, love, and hope I experienced in Colombia. We need help. We need prayer, financial support, and hands & feet to come down and serve in Colombia to make these God-sized dreams come to fruition.
Imagine what it would be like…
… to be the one to bring hope to those in Colombia.
So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you! Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.
written by: Elisa Brown and Lisa Merritt (in green)