e hënë, 31 dhjetor 2007

Short term Missions and my personal calling

This blog has been a long time coming. I know several of you have asked me to write about my short term mission experience. I have not been able to----because honestly, I have been so busy, with work, family illness, moving and the holidays-- But also if I am really honest it is because the trip was a pressure cooker for my own personal growth and it has taken me this long to process or rather even begin to understand what the trip really meant to me.

I know that I know I have a call on my life and it has been and still is incredibly difficult for me to answer. The costs are high for me and I'm not sure I'm ready or willing to pay the costs. As I write this, I realize accountability-it may sound bad but at least it is honest. Even as I write, I can’t fight back the tears. It is a call that requires more of me than I can give... That’s honest…. But, God has given me more than I deserve…so, I continue to pray for God’s Grace.

So, my friend, D, called and asked me to join her (and her church's team) on a short term mission trip. I knew before she asked me, that the call was her asking me this and I knew I was supposed to go and I wanted to go. It was to do habitat work on a remote island. What I didn’t know was why I was to supposed to go? Was I suppose to connect with these church members? With this church? Was I supposed to go to touch the heart of someone I met there? Was I going to realize that I was mistaken many years ago and perhaps I should have actually joined the international missions team I had considered as a vocation? I know now- that was not it- not at all. In fact, I know now, I was “supposed” to go to "know that I know"-- I am not called to international missions of this type. The mission trip just once again solidified my personal call and I am extremely thankful for this opportunity despite having to come home early for family illness.

While on the trip, we worked hard but did manage to rush into a couple of church services. In the short visits to this church, I saw a group of people who prayed with thankful hearts for us, the under-skilled roofers of an old poor woman’s home. I saw in them—God. I longed to be closer to them, but there was no time for that. I thought frequently of the church and wished I could be connecting with the people.

But instead we did manual labor, a roofing job that was apparently, just in time, because one day after the team's return, a hurricane passed directly over the island. I wonder if this old woman's house endured the storm and I have faith that it did.

Bare with me, I know I will ramble because I am still working this out in my head.

Sometimes, I relate to Paul--- sometimes, to Thomas. Before leaving for this trip, I questioned many things- including my call. I think I began to question my calling again because I "wanted" to question it.

Sometimes, God calls us to do those things that are not “easy” for us. International missions, in ways, would have been easier, for “me”…harder for many others. Please don’t misunderstand, I am deeply committed to the words of Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And I believe we are the hands of Christ…no doubt.

But, I also realize the words to the church of Corinth. We are DIFFERENT parts of one body. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” God calls us to appreciate the part that each one has in the church. It’s all-important to the overall functioning of Christ’s Body. Of course, I’d be preaching to the choir if I went into a sermon about this. You know what I’m talking about … But, me-

Well---- Let’s go back to Thomas- Sometimes-often times- I feel like, I'm just not in sync with the other "disciples"/the other church folks - and that reminded me of Thomas-

"One of the twelve, Thomas, . . . was Not with the rest when Jesus came. So the disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." He said, "Unless I see the mark of the nails on his hands, unless I put my finger into the place where the nails were, and my hand into his side, I will not believe it."

— John 20: 24-25 (New English Bible)

For some reason, Thomas wasn't with the rest - and-- Thomas HAD to touch the wounds of Christ. They call him Doubting Thomas---not exactly the sort of Disciple I “want to follow” or that I "should" compare myself to- huh? Regardless, I just recently realized Thomas and I may be a little bit alike. Thomas really needed to TOUCH the Wounds to know Christ was ALIVE--To know Christ was real.

What does that have to do with the mission trip, and me?? I just started thinking about this and I started thinking about my heart –

I know too well the way the church has hurt God’s own people. I know too well that everyone is not treated as if they are indeed the body of Christ. I know that the wrongs of the church of Jesus Christ have to be made right – I know that somehow someone has to work for Justice and work to assure the outcast people are reconciled with the body of Christ.

Justice demands that we recognize and respect the dignity and rights of all people. As a Church, our official policy is or should be --to work toward social justice---justice within the systems of government, the economic powers of business, and the structures of social organizations. Unfortunately, many church leaders and members turn a blind eye to injustices that are suffered by the very people who work within the walls and structures of the Church itself.

There are the wounded among us – the wounded body of Christ and there are also the wounded who have been shut out by the very walls of our church itself.

Among my mission team members, I saw God. For those of them that I know feel called to international missions, I admire them- I am grateful God does not call me to be so far from good medical care that if I did have a cardiac issue, I could not get medical attention, I am grateful God does not call me to be in a place where I can not get on a plane immediately to rush home to a brother who may die. Those aspects would be difficult to swallow just as my own calling is hard for me to swallow in different ways for different reasons.

Yes, I saw God in many different forms in each of the team members. But, one thing I wonder - if all things were equal and all things were known, would they see God in me?

I remember a story about a monastery that was dying. No visitors came to the monastery anymore and the old monks were just getting older and dying out. A hermit lived near by and the monks went to the hermit’s house. They asked him what they should do because the monastery was dying. The hermit said, I don’t really know what to tell you but I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that one of you is a great disciple of Christ and will go down in history as such. The old monks thought who could it be? Is it Andrew? Is it Thomas? Soon, all of the monks began to treat each other with great respect and bow to one another with honor. Each of them lived as if they could be an important disciple of Christ and as if their fellow man could be that most important disciple. The monastery grew and thrived…

I know you are reading between my lines and I hope you know I am saying I know how I must live my life. I also know that story has deep profound meaning for all of the body of Christ if they will hear it.

My hands just are not able to do roofing for those abroad…but My hands and my heart –you see, they absolutely HAVE to touch the WOUNDS OF CHRIST, maybe I – Like Thomas need to touch the wounds of Christ to know Christ is real- Christ is alive!

I think I get it the way Thomas got it-- the real Jesus, the Risen Jesus, is the wounded Jesus- He is- after all, my wounded healer.

See, to me, there are so many injustices right here in the USA- right here before us, among us and there are so many outcasts who would not be touched by some other parts of the body of Christ.

There is more than one particular people group who is so wounded by the church today….. and someone-- someone- HAS to touch them…has to be that hand of Christ-just as Christ touched the leper.

Someone has to realize Christ IS the gay neighbor.

Christ IS the homeless schizophrenic.

When will we realize it is the Body of Christ who is gay –

the Body of Christ who is Poor-

The body of Christ has AIDS???

And, when will we ask who is called to go touch the wounds, touch the wounded body of Christ- touch the people and be the very voice that speaks for the voiceless? Someone has to ask these questions - so that these people groups will be reconciled and accepted as equally important parts of the body of Christ.

Who will touch the wounds of Christ and know Christ is Alive-even in them?

Is it I, Lord?

1 koment:

Leia* * * * * * * * * * * * * * tha...

It's so wonderfully refreshing to see you be so honest about what you are going through within yourself. The fact that you are questioning who you are in Christ, and what the shortcomings of the church are show that Christ is at work in your heart. You've proven to yourself that you are willing to answer Christ's call of putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, and thats just what you need to keep being willing to do. I have to continually remind me that God won't give me more than I can handle, but I'm so thankful that he puts things in my life that make me incredibly uncomfortable. If it was up to me to decide how I would grow in Christ, the things I would choose would definitely not teach and mold me into anything out of the ordinary. So thank you Lord for stretching me beyond what I think is possible!
The Lord talks about how the love of Christ is the greatest gift that we can give to anyone. I see that you have that love in your heart for so many different people. If those of us that are physically present in the world don't show that love, how much harder will it be for someone to realize the love that Christ has for us? So please, continue to love greatly!
I was so thankful for your presence on the mission team. So thank you for positioning yourself so that you could obey Christ. I love you, and I will pray that the Lord will continue to use you greatly!