“…but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 19:14, ESV)
<If this is your first time here, please browse the archives. I’m sure you will find many of the posts relevant to your walk with Christ. Part 1 of this series on my recent mission trip is here. And Part 2 is here.>
I’ll be honest. I have not really spent much time thinking about the poor.
Sure, I have bought food for random homeless folks. I’ve donated canned goods and clothing to shelters and food banks—far too infrequently, I must add. But in my normal circles I don’t run into a lot of really poor people. It’s not an excuse, just another detail.
And the poor that I do know are still far better off than most of the families I encountered in San Raymundo, Guatemala.
As I’ve said, my church partners with Casas por Cristo, a non-profit that provides homes for needy families. Even with the hundreds of homes that Casas por Cristo builds with the help of churches—mostly, but not exclusively, American and Canadian churches—the need still far outweighs the resources. In addition to the houses, complete with electricity, Casas por Cristo provides one double bed and a water filtration system.
Our first day on site we put in the concrete foundation. This was really something to see. We had people filling buckets with sand, gravel, cement, and water, and others moving and arranging the buckets near the mixers, and still others ensuring that the concrete was evenly distributed in the forms. I was on sand duty. The real sight to see, however, was these little boys—I’m guessing ages 5-6—who grabbed our spare shovels and were almost fighting each other for the chance to fill a bucket with sand. They wanted so badly to help, and we always tried to find something for them to do. Oddly enough, these boys were not from the family for whom we were building. They were neighborhood children.
I tried to keep an eye on them as best I could while filling my own buckets. At one point I saw one of the boys looking at his thumb. He had developed a blister that had already popped. One of our crew was a nurse named Mary. I called her over and we were able to get the boy, albeit reluctantly, to have his wound cleaned and bandaged. As soon as that was done he ran right back and picked up a shovel!
Throughout the build I had these little ones trying to talk to me. But I couldn’t understand a thing they said. If you ask anyone that knows me, they’ll tell you that I’m not the most relational guy around. I enjoy quiet and solitude. So it was a shock to me that my heart was breaking because I couldn’t communicate with these wonderful kids.
I am determined to return to Guatemala. And while it is unlikely that my path would cross theirs again, I want so much to be able to connect with those to whom belongs “the kingdom of heaven.” I know that in order to do that I need to learn Spanish. I am determined to learn Spanish.
So many people think that simply going on a mission trip is a sacrifice. And in some ways I would agree with that. But how effective can we really expect to be if we are unwilling to go the extra mile and learn to communicate with those we meet? I knew the least amount of Spanish of any of the people on the trip, and it destroys me.
As disciples, there is no sacrifice too costly. We have no offering that is too much. Whether we must learn a new language, give of our time or resources, or simply be willing to share what Jesus had done for us, there is no price too steep.
Take a few moments to consider what changes you can make in your life that will enable you to better relate with someone so that you can perhaps reach them with the Gospel.
Blessings on your week!