Sunday Worship Gathering 11 AM @ North Community Lutheran Church
114 Morse Road Columbus, OH 43214 (Map)
The trip to see our partners at Asia's Hope is not really a mission. At least, not in the way I typically think of the word. I think of a mission as a targeted time to accomplish something, a task. Building a house, perhaps, or medical ministry, something concrete that changes as a result of the trip. Our time with Asia's Hope is really more about setting aside time to maintain our relationship with our partners.
I know the value of face to face visits from my time in the business world. I've spent many days in airports for the purpose of maintaining relationships with business partners. But before I left, in the back of my mind, I still had small doubts: is it really appropriate to spend the time and money of a trip for a church partnership? Will our partners appreciate our time there if we don't really do anything?
At the back of the plane on our trip to India, surrounded by Indians who kept looking at me discreetly and smiling, or in some cases, just out and out staring, I opened my Bible:
"So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness." John 1:14
My heart warmed, and I was encouraged. Jesus came here to be with us. He took the time and humbled himself to live with us. How great is our God! He loves us.
And it struck me that perhaps this visit would encourage the staff at Asia's Hope in the same way this verse encouraged me. Not that our team is God in the flesh or something, but that the time and effort we spend coming here communicates love.
Two days into our visit, we sat around a large table enjoying lunch with Nehemiah and his family and the Asia's Hope staff. We had just spent two hours praising and worshipping the Lord together.
We have had a hero's welcome here in Kalimpong. At our arrival, they honored us by placing white scarves on our necks and giving us fragrant flowers. The children dance and sang to us for hours, in a program prepared just for us. But this time, over lunch, when Nehemiah spoke, his voice broke and tears came to his eyes:
"I cannot tell you how much it means to us that you come here to visit. You do not just send your money, but you come here and spend time with us. You give your time and make the long trip to come see us. It touches our hearts in a way you cannot know. We thank you."
Our visits to the staff and children of Asia's Hope are important. Being able to physically see and encourage one another, to worship with each other, it is good for the soul. The Asia's Hope staff shared with me that there is a saying here in India, that 'a man can give much, but he cannot give his time.' How true is that? It is easy to write a check, but personal investment is a whole other thing.
This trip is really about visiting our dear family in Christ. God is honored when we love one another and show care for one another. People always say you will be changed by a mission trip. This may be true, but I can tell you what I know today: relationships are changed by these visits. They are strengthened and undergirded by love for one another and a shared love of Christ. We are reminded that we are all part of Christ's body and that we need each other, that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
We may not be doing anything during our time here, but the Holy Spirit is. He takes the offering of time and availability, and He turns it into a beautiful thing.
I am so grateful to play a small part in of the work He is doing here in Kalimpong.
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