“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’.” Romans 10:12-13 (NRSV)
This week I will leave for Guatemala on a mission trip. I haven’t been on one for a while, and it’s time. What do I hope to accomplish? Well, the work part of the trip is to do the interior work of painting, laying tile, cleaning, preparing shelves and so forth for a new medical clinic in Cunen. The building has been up for a while, and now we want to have it ready so it can open hopefully soon after we leave to head home. That’s the “on paper” job description.
Years ago, missionaries would go to countries to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the indigenous people, and they often imposed their own cultural ideas on the people, thinking that they had to conform to the Western way of living, dressing, worshiping, etc. But time and experience has helped us to realize that the Guatemalan people can teach us more about living as followers of Jesus than we teach them.
We go to work with them, to establish a relationship of respect and love with the Mayan people who have been oppressed, massacred, abused, and marginalized for years. Yet, they live with the joy of Christ in their hearts and share that joy freely and without worry about what others might think of their witness. Their lives are not separated, but holistic: body, mind, and spirit in God’s presence and love with them.
This trip will be a blessing to me, and I can only hope that I will be some kind of blessing to them as I paint, sweep, interact, and commune with the Mayan people. Their story, in the long run, is my story, too, because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are united by the common bond of Christ in our lives, and it is a privilege to be able to work with them and learn from them. I pray that we will all grow in faith and in the love of Christ. May it be so.