Since I was thirteen, I have had a passion for missions. I have fallen in love with other countries and have desired to visit as many as I can, and I have encouraged as many as I can to do the same through missions trips either short or long-term. I have visited just a few in my lifetime so far, but in each place this is what I have learned: “Hope is born when someone leaves their comfort zone in order to show up in the life of another.”
While you think you are going to change and influence another people through missions or service, it is much more likely, that that people group will change and influence you. You may enter someone else’s world full of experience, or empty handed, or full of ideas, but no matter how you come you leave changed by what you have seen and experienced.
There is this other element of missions that is most noticable in third-world countries, but is universally true, and that is the element of hope that rises in the lives of the people you meet just because you have come. There is something disarming and then empowering by the presence of someone who has come to help. Even missionaries who have been on the field for a long time find the presence of another one from their culture to be refreshing and a renewing of their hope.
It was the group “Casting Crowns” that asked the question, “If we are the Body, why aren’t His arms reaching? Why aren’t His hands healing? Why aren’t His words speaking?”* I think that is a legitimate question to ask, but not just of overseas missions. Look at our local communities. They are full of people, children, families that are in need of hope and many will not find it because hope, through the Body of Christ just didn’t show up.
It’s not that we meant to neglect them, necessarily, we just didn’t see how our time or efforts would really make a difference. “Aren’t there others who are qualified to deal with these kinds of people?” we ask ourselves. We have excuse after excuse why we don’t “show up”. We even know of needs next door but have a list of excuses why we just don’t think we are necessary.
Now look at what happens when we choose to “show up”. People know that we care. They know that we are serious about doing whatever we can to help. We open the door for more opportunities to express the love and power of God through our lives, because honestly, what we have just isn’t enough, but what God has to give through us is never-ending. Yes, we cry more. We labor longer. We give from our resources. We embrace grief and pain, and in the process we become more like our Savior and experience the joy He gives. We bring hope.
“Showing up” could mean writing that card you’ve been intending to send, or stopping by to say hello and check in on the family. It could mean inviting someone to dinner or paying their electric bill for the month. It could be teaching classes at your local church or volunteering in your communities, or schools. Maybe you need to raise the funds for that missions trip you’ve been avoiding, but that God keeps impressing on your heart. Whatever it is, it is hope, and hope is carried on the shoulders of those who choose to leave their comfort and show up in the life of another. If you aren’t that hope, who else will be?
* Casting Crowns “If We Are the Body” From the album: Casting Crowns. http://www.castingcrowns.com