The week of June 20-26th was spent on a mission trip with youth and adults (mostly youth) from my church in Wilmington, North Carolina. We repaired homes in the area with Group Work Camp. In the middle of serving and working all week I found it difficult to get time to think and reflect on my experience there, but as I look back – even from just a few day’s distance – there are some things I am struck by and want to share.
1. The power of faith in action is tremendous. As a person who spends a significant amount of time every week stringing together words to communicate the message of life with Christ, its easy to get lost in those words and forget the power of our actions. Faithful living has a different kind of power to affect people than do words and its a power that can too often be overlooked. I’m not advocating an either-or approach; I’m saying I’ve been reminded that, at its heart, life with Christ is words and actions (all of life really) united together.
2. Students have tremendous potential and impact. I can’t possibly convey here how touched I was and how impressed I was with the students from our group. They worked hard. They chased hard after the things of God. They made a difference last week. As they were serving, I hope they got a glimpse of their power and the potential they have. They really could change the world. If they put themselves wholly into it, with the help of God, they could make an impact that no other generation could rival.
3. When you serve you always get more than you give. That’s not why you serve, of course, but its still true. I experienced that first hand this week in the kindness and grace of the woman in whose home we worked. She would be genuinely embarrassed for me to mention it, but she was one of the most valuable gifts that God gave me last week. She renewed my soul.
4. Too much ministry happens inside our church buildings. The more we are in here the more we miss the opportunities out there. And again, its not an either-or proposition. It’s about something more balanced. But for too long the life of the Church has been out of balance. The lives of many believers have been out of balance. We spend too much time looking at the world through rose colored stained-glass windows. It’s long overdue for that to begin changing.
I am so glad I went to North Carolina last week. God had a lot of special people and important lessons waiting for me in Wilmington. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss them.