Today I had the privilege of catching up with a dear friend and co-worker. While I was in Honduras a couple of weeks ago, Miranda was in the Dominican Republic with another one of our teams. I guess it’s no surprise that our conversation drifted towards our experiences on those trips.
Miranda shared one insight from her trip that I haven’t been able to shake since we talked. She said, “Jenni, I didn’t feel despair for the people we served, I felt hopeful.”
Isn’t it true that we prepare ourselves to experience the extreme when we go on foreign mission trips?
While I was in Honduras I couldn’t help but process those extremes…
Honduras is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited but the beauty of God’s creation is so radically distorted by the tragedy of the disease and poverty that is common in most developing countries. I felt like for the first time I caught a glimpse of the beauty of God’s original design for creation as it collides with the consequences of our sin and frailty.
It seems hopeless in a way. The needs are too vast to really meet them all.
As excessive Americans we lament over the primitive lifestyle of those who live in the developing world, but I wonder if it’s really all that bad?
Our excess has only served to expose the ugly sin within our hearts. We mask it by our beauty and perfection, but the consequences are no different.
We have so far to go to restore the beauty of God’s original design and sometimes I wonder why we try so hard? In our effort to restore perfection, I think we focus on the wrong things. We quickly want to scoop up the sweet young children and rescue them back to America where they can have all the luxuries our lifestyle affords. I’m not sure I want to impose this madness on those who don’t take for granted a single blessing.
This is my sweet friend Emily. Look at that smile! I really did want to pack her up and take her home, but more importantly what I needed to do is share God’s love with her, support the school and ministry organization that provides her education and two meals a day. Emily needs to be right where she is with her family and community that love her and some passionate people who feel called to serve her day in and day out.
I believe that one day God will restore the beauty of creation, but I don’t think He has tasked us with that job. Sometimes I think we get more focused on that than on the goal he actually gave us.
Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15
That’s the the calling Jesus left us with. That’s the goal we should be pursuing. I don’t think He would have said it if it wasn’t possible. Our job will never be to make sure the entire world lives as comfortably as we do. That’s the wrong goal. Our goal is to make disciples of all men, to show the love of Jesus and draw all men to Him.
Sometimes that starts with food distribution, providing clean water, education and medical aid, but may we never forget that those things aren’t the end goal. They are the beginning. I can’t make it all perfect, but I can lead people to the one who can.
When we understand our real purpose and goal there is no despair, there is hope!