A Care Package of Human Resources
It was November of 2006, when I and multiple members of my church family, boarded a plane that would take us to Miami, Florida; after which we boarded yet another plane that would take us to the Eastern side of the island that Christopher Columbus first landed on in 1492 when he “sailed the ocean blue”. This island, now commonly known as the Dominican Republic, would be me and my fellow team members home for the next 10 days, as we’d serve alongside the founder of TEARS (True Evangelism Always Require Sacrifice), Rod Davis. We were a group of 10 or so young men and women spurred on by the Holy Spirit to serve our Lord in a cross-cultural context.
Having never been out of the country other than a vacation cruise some years before, I had no idea what I’d see, hear or feel. I was “wet behind the ears”, completely naive to how people lived in poor 3rd-world contexts. My understanding of mission’s work and the life of missionaries was greatly informed after our 10-day stay as I walked alongside some individuals who are, even to this day, folks I look up to, strive to imitate and quite frankly are my heroes in ministry. However, let me be completely clear, it wasn’t until I myself became a missionary just 8 years later, that I TRULY understood what that, seemingly, short little stay could mean in the grand scheme of things. The missionary is a foreigner, one incompetent in language, one who is forever making cultural faux pas, one who never can blend in or even hide for a moment, one whose life’s work is to abandon his culture increasingly to acquire competence in another. You see, the full-time missionary’s life is accepting the role of outsider, becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable for the glory of King Jesus.
So, you can imagine what it means for a full-time missionary when servants from their sending church or partnering churches choose to sacrifice time and resources to board a plane to serve alongside their ministry partners abroad. It can be a fruitful and rewarding experience for the short-term team member, first and foremost, for the locals to whom they are going to minister to, and finally for, the oft-forgotten recipient of arguably the greatest blessing, the full-time missionary family who will most likely be hosting you for your time. For the missionary family, the short-term team is, as Clint Archer puts it in his book on short-term ministry, “a care package of human resources”.
On August 15, 2018, we received such a care package at our home in Grand Goave, Haiti! What a bountiful blessing it was spending time with five uniquely wrapped gifts: Ryan, Cyrus, Shea, Candace, and Micaiah. They each blessed our family, community, and church family in ways unexplainable. Leaving their comfort zones for a week-long stent in our impoverished context seemed to them a minor and insignificant sacrifice. They were ready to serve and give in any way they could, having prepared months in advance: raising funds and planning various activities for our church and community members, as well as preparing themselves for the challenges they would soon face as the high temperatures, humidity, bugs, mosquitoes, and other not-so-friendly aspects of third world life greeted them at the airport exit door.
It was a week jammed-pack with ministering to our community and church family. From a backyard Bible fun day with over 100 community kids, to a two-day Vacation Bible School for almost 90 children up the mountain at our local church, to a Q & A time at the young adult meeting, and finally to a fruitful day of fellowship at the beach spending time with the almost 30 young adults from our church and church community, the team served well. They worked hard to connect with those they served despite obvious cultural and language barriers, sharing the love and saving grace of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Thus, Haiti Team 2018 was a great success! There is not enough space to detail all of what happened in their short time with us, while they blessed the many children, church members and community members, they most profoundly blessed our family: Willio, myself (Neecole), Abby and Gabby. As we played games together after meals, joked, talked, laughed, and caught up on one another’s lives, Willio and I were encouraged. As they occupied Abby and Gabby’s time by working on jigsaw puzzles, singing, running, and playing with them, we were encouraged. You see, as much as the team comes to bless the locals that we, the missionaries, serve and interact with each day, they most importantly bless us as they our divinely prepared “care package of human resources” giving us a little boost, a little hug from our Savior, spurring us on to love and good deeds.