My son has recently decided to join a team going on a mission trip to Haiti this summer. I was pretty excited for him when he told me because this will be his first. After he told me I started thinking about what God might do to his heart through this trip. My prayer for him leading up to it, appropriately picked from the book of James (my son’s name is James), is that he would visit and help and care for widows and orphans in their affliction and need and that through that he would remain unstained by the world. Haiti seems like a good place for that to happen.
Before I go any further, full disclosure, I’ve never been on a mission trip. I know I’m a bad Christian. But, I’m living on mission right now, so that works, right? With that confession out-of-the-way, I also thought about how I’ve heard people respond when they return from mission trips. I feel like one of the most common responses is, “I saw how little the people had and it really made me appreciate how much I have. It helped me realize how fortunate I am and how much God has blessed me.”
WHAT? No, just no. On the surface, that’s a harmless, possibly even a good realization. But really what’s being said is, “Thank God I don’t have to go through what they are.” If a statement or realization like that isn’t followed up with something like, “So I decided to do something about that. Since then I’ve used the blessings that God has poured out on me to…fill in the blank” then the point of the entire mission trip is lost. I’m certain that the point of a mission trip to a country, like say Kenya, is not so that we can do them some big favor, like build a school and to remind us how fortunate we are so that we can go home and rest easy in our comfy bed knowing that we did our due diligence as a good Christian and that we’re well blessed for it.
I’m not saying that having stuff is bad. I’m not even saying that we ought to sell all we have and give it to the poor (Jesus said that, I didn’t). What I am saying is that if our response to seeing people hurting and in need is not to give out of our abundance, then maybe we missed the part of Jesus’ ministry where He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Maybe we don’t take serious the early churches example when they “were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” Maybe we’re so content in our blessing that we’ve forgotten that God’s abundant supply is intended for us to abound in every good work. That we are blessed to distribute freely to those in need.
I’m years into my walk with Jesus and I’m just learning to do this. I don’t pretend to have it figured out and I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, before I point it at me. We are so fortunate in our country. Many of us don’t go to bed hungry. We don’t have to walk to get our water. We feel safe in our homes. We have cars and money and flat screens and iPhones. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But our trips to third world countries or poor neighborhoods in our own cities shouldn’t draw us to relief, it should move us toward Jesus with an urgency to remedy those needs that God has enabled and equipped us for.
My wife and I recently decided to add a generosity line item into our budget. Our desire is simply to find opportunities to be generous and fill a need. I’d love for you to join us in that. Because I’m a Twitter and Instagram glutton I would love to see people tweets and instagrams of people being generous, but I don’t want to make this some crazy social media circus. Not that there’s anything wrong with sharing that stuff as testimony, with our community and close others that will be blessed and benefit from the word of it. In addition to that I want to honor Jesus’ instruction to “not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” So, we’re not going to do that, but we can share ideas for generosity and blessing others out of our blessing in the comments, so…
How are some ways we/you can bless others? #FortunateForOthers
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