This might be a reoccurring theme in these newsletters. I can’t help it; it’s always on my mind. We live in such a crazy world. I have friends whose biggest fear is to be bored, and others whose biggest fear is to not have food for their children. Friends who worry that they will lose their home, and others who worry about how to hide the scars from a beating they just received. Friends who worry their maid will leave them, and friends who worry that they will lose their job. As you read this, I’m sure you are thinking that the comparisons are from “first-world” country worries to “third world” country worries, but this is not the case! I mixed them up because this is our world today. Rich read a book called The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman that talks about this reality. Historical and geographical lines are becoming irrelevant in this world. The quality of your relationships, the stress level in your life, whether you are abused or not does not depend on what country you live in, or if your country qualifies as ¨first world¨ or ¨third world¨. Our world is flat, which makes missions flat!
A few months back, Rich and I set out with Corban to travel in a van down and around South America and play and speak in churches. Standard old-fashioned missions, with alter calls, parasites, and angels to provide just in the nick-of-time. This last month, Rich and I travelled with Corban to Florida. We travelled from church to church playing and preaching. Would you call that missions? The altar call element was there, as were the angels, but not so much the parasites. Just as we depended on each church love offering to cover our costs in South America, the same was true in North America. I have friends who would not call this missions because it’s third world coming “up” to the first world…and well…the first world has better roads, better homes, you are safer as you travel, and let’s face it, the first-world doesn’t need spiritual help. If this is what we believe, it’s time for a wake up call!
The truth is the world is flat! We all need spiritual help, and we all suffer with spiritual, emotional and physical problems. Our geographical divisions no longer determine our spiritual state; on the contrary many would argue that the more “comfortable” your country is to live in, the weaker your faith!
This last month, we attended the Especialidades Juveniles convention in Orlando. Afterwards we were involved in the EJ leadership meetings. Surrounding us were 40 or more famous Christian authors, musicians, radio and TV personalities, renowned speakers. Rich and I were the newbies, and by far the least famous! Rich was one of maybe 5 from a country considered to be “first-world.”
It’s time to redefine missions. It has nothing to do with “first-world” or “third-world”, but it still has everything to do with getting out of our comfort zone and going to a culture that is completely different from our own. And it still has everything to do with shining a light in dark places.
As Rich and I returned back home to Quito, we were talking about our diverse Inca Link family. How thankful we are to be able to redefine missions with such a great group of people! Our last days in Florida were with Inca Link International board and staff. It was so good to be with Jeff and Libbi Hendley again, to hear Lisa Merritt and Joseph Fisher laughing, to hear Matt Peaces´ amazing stories. These are people we have known for under 10 years, but have grown to love and respect very much. Even more wonderful was to have Julie Volstad and Todd Sovine join us in our kingdom building adventure after 24 years of friendship! Wimpy on rides, but spiritual forces on our board! ! And of course, we can’t begin to describe how thankful we were to see and squeeze our daughter Olivia…not at all a wimp when it comes to rides! We love our board and how they work tirelessly to shine light and empower people to shine light!
As our plane touched down in Quito, we also felt the tug of reality of missions redefined in our neighborhood. Many of you have gotten to know and love the Bryans family. God has called them to shine a light in Texas, and we are sad to see them go, so sad that I was tempted to get mad! But this great family has blessed Inca Link and children at risk here in Ecuador so much, we can only be grateful for the time we had working side by side with them, and hopeful that we will keep working side by side in a redefined way!!
Casey, we are going to miss your insightfulness and your sense of humor. Renae, we are going to miss your tender heart, the mercy you showed even when it was hard. Luke and Jordan, we are going to miss your enthusiasm for all things Ecuador, your superior athletic skills, and your great attitudes! Molly, we are going to miss that big old toothless grin of yours, the dance company that was like stepping into another culture, and your energy! Texas is lucky to have you guys. Thanks for giving so much of yourselves here! We love you all!