Monday, January 14, 2013

Home from Africa: Packing in Place of Guilt

Praise God for an awesome (and safe) trip to and from Jos, Nigeria. Over the next few months, I plan to post dozens of Faith Alive hospital updates and tidbits ranging from a 15 lb. newborn to brothel transformation ideas to a donated cow slaughtered on the rec center's basketball court. For now, however, I just want to rest after the 38-hour door to door (or bed to bed) travel. 

I'll share with everyone some wise words adapted from my friend Don Simmons about what to bring home from a mission trip experience. 


Don says, "When I returned from living in Papua New Guinea for a while, along with my clothes and cool souvenirs of my trip, I also packed a lot of guilt—guilt about the way I had previously thought, guilt about the way I had looked at the world before, guilt about having SO much, and guilt about “those people” having so little. The guilt was a motivator—for a very short time—but once the guilt wore off, I wanted to go to the beach and live my privileged American Christian life. So, as you’re packing, what are you going to place IN PLACE of guilt?

Here are some suggestions:

RESOLVE. The deep gut strength/feeling to DO something about poverty in the world and where you live.

ARTICULATION. We can often miscommunicate our message because we "feel" it more than we can express it.

REALISTIC STRATEGY. You will need to be thinking of a realistic strategy to educate, engage, and equip others on what you have learned.

HOPE. You know it now: God loves and cares for people in developing countries just as much (and possibly more because they are poor) as he loves and cares for people in developed countries. If you focus on the helplessness and not the HOPE, you'll miss the point. If you focus on the poverty and not the richness of God's promises, you won't be able to do much about poverty. As a Missouri poet puts it, "Gaze at god, glance at everything else."

DESIRE. Pack some desire to go to other lands, other cultures, other neighborhoods. Let your trip be an "appetizer" for the buffet of God's world and his people. Pack that desire to take others with you and open their eyes as well.

Don continues by saying, "The amazing thing about travel that I love is that it is the one activity that allows us to get a good look at how BIG God is, and how BIG our family is. Pack away all those new friendships—teachers, principals, students, doctors, nurses, etc. Tuck away those treasures and pull them out often: pray for them, think of them, and remember what you learned from them. Isn’t it amazing that you went to be the giver and yet you returned very much the student?"


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