Several years ago, at a Leadership Summit event, I heard Pastor Bill Hybels talk about the first time he ever experienced true, real, systemic, cavernous poverty. I don’t remember the country he was visiting. And I don’t really remember the details of what he saw. But I do remember him saying how it changed him. Permanently.
He shared about how it shattered much of his western thinking and deeply effected his habits, decisions, how he read scripture, church leadership, preaching, and made him more mindful to embrace the full call of following Christ. That is, to be the kind of disciple who is compelled to bring God’s future reality into the present (because our world needs it!) He ended his talk with a strongly worded encouragement for any and all church staff to take a trip to an under-resourced nation.
My parents had a similar experience. Several years ago, through their church in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada, they went on a short term mission trip to Guatemala. They haven’t been the same since!
In their early retirement years, they could easily spend their days in ease and comfort, but instead they continue taking small jobs so that they can support their new found addiction of living in Guatemala 3 or 4 months out of every year in order to serve the underpriviliged people they’ve come to know and love so deeply. By the way – I’m SUPER proud of my parents for this. While I’ve always loved and admired them (except for maybe a brief rebellious stint in tenth grade), my love and admiration has grown for them exponentially.
Our church’s mission trip to Swaziland (June 20-30) will be my first exposure to real need and poverty on a large scale.
I hope it changes me too.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” – Amos 5:24