When I write these letters I try to share the mission by telling the stories. Sometimes, the words or the stories of others say it better than I ever can:
A lady said to me, “I am so glad that I didn’t let the media keep me from being here.”
A pastor wrote, “My prayer is that our mission committee will not again be trapped by fear.”
In my last letter I tried to put fear in perspective. I received some responses from friends that go straight to the issue.
One wrote, “Fear is the belief that evil will triumph.”
Isn’t THAT a paralysis of the spirit?
Another powerful quote came from a Methodist preacher: “To be alive at all is to be in danger…therefore let us live dangerously by design rather than by default.”
One of our X Project participants reflecting on his experience said, “It would be nice to go back home where everything will be the same but there’s a problem…nothing will ever be the same.” It sounds like he has been living “dangerously by design.”
The supreme irony is that groups say they feel safer here than back home in their own cities. One kid from an inner city ghetto said that this was the first week he could remember not being wakened by the noise of gun shots. A group that wasn’t allowed to come to Mexico by their church went to New Orleans instead. They had a good experience there but they said that it cost them more money and that it felt more “dangerous” than their past trips to Mexico.
Then there is the testimony from a group leader whose enthusiasm is much more contagious than any flu virus and whose optimistic hope could stifle any fears of danger:
“Our trip was AMAZING!!! A total gong show from start to finish. I’m sure you’re wondering if you’d ever let us come back BUT, it was an incredibly life changing experience for everyone! I don’t know a person who came home the same. It looks different for everyone, but it was huge. It was being faced with poverty in such a real way, seeing that we could make a huge difference with so little sacrifice. It was kids coming to see that Hope was something far deeper than simply giving people a home, food or money. Hope is something that is much richer and deeper. It was coming to realize that poverty happens all over the world. The Mexican families we worked with maybe were impoverished as far as food, shelter and material things, but they were rich in love, generosity and relationship. They were rich in ways that many of us are poor. They were absolutely beautiful people in every sense of the word! It is impossible for me to describe the 101 ways we were all changed and challenged. There are so many incredible stories! So many ‘trickle’ effects too. It didn’t just affect our group; it affected our whole church and a lot of our community. It was the Hindu lady at our corner store who couldn’t wait to hear our stories, and the teachers at our local high school that wanted to hear all about it. It was the parents and families of our non Christian students that were blown away. It was parents who came on the trip who now ‘get’ youth ministry and ‘get’ why missions is so vital, and why God asks us to serve the poor. All very cool!”
What could I possibly say or do that would encourage you more to take that “dangerous” leap of faith except to say that we will be here for you when you come down the road. The dream is alive and well. Come and share it with us. Come Build Hope.