Tuesday, November 02, 2010

one

It’s been three weeks since I’ve been back in the familiar world of my Starbucks at the beach. I must tell you that the familiar is not all that familiar any more. While I’ve been gone, some further changes have been completed inside while outside an entirely new building is taking shape. There is new art work hanging behind me and new lighting in front of me. Perhaps it is fitting that home has changed a bit while I was gone since a good deal of what I thought I knew has changed along the journey as well. I have attached this picture, one of my favorites from last weeks journey as a memory of the change. I’m not so sure it has been change as much as it has been reminder. I needed to be reminded once again of the power of one. One life, mine or someone else's, can change the destiny of many. One church, relentlessly following Jesus, can change the destiny of many. One organization, with the right perspective, vision, and motives, can change the destiny of many. I have to fight to remember that truth in a culture that doesn’t desire any to move above the mediocrity of the crowd.
These past several days I was privileged to be one person,
part of one team, from one church, partnering with one organization, whose mission was to drill for one village, one fresh water well that would bring life rather than disease. It was a one week investment of our lives. And to be honest, in a country as beautiful as Guatemala, surrounded by the love and grace of these wonderful people, it can hardly be measured as sacrifice. It was an honor. Sure it was heat and jungle and spiders and being guarded by nice men with guns, but more than that, it was an honor.
It was humbling to spend some time in Antigua, a city that is 500 years old, surrounded by volcanoes periodically puffing smoke, and realize that my own country is an infant by comparison. It was a mix of beauty and ruin in most places that we travelled with obvious awkward attempts at incorporating what they perceived to be the best of my country. I’ll have to admit to more than a sense of embarrassment that we are represented by McDonalds and Taco Bell. It seemed a bit like painting a hideous scar on the Mona Lisa. I tried to imagine the beauty of their churches, schools, stadiums, and houses when they were first built. It looked like it must have been so long ago. So many of them looked like scenes from Mad Max, but I could still gain glimpses of the promise they once held, or I should clarify, might have held for me. I didn’t get the sense that it mattered to them as much as it mattered to me.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the village that was our final destination. Even the name of the village, “Line B-6” , reflected a more simple life. It wasn’t named after a saint or religious figure as many were. It wasn’t named after a politician, or the first family to settle there. There was no pretense. It was just practical. All that we knew was that it was “Linea B-6” and there was not clean water for miles. But I will tell you that, after having spent a week with them, this was about all that they lacked.
We have a tendency in our culture to have a savior complex, especially when it comes to the missional efforts of a community of faith. It comes, I think, from a looking at things from a “church” set of eyes and not through the eyes of Jesus. In Jesus I see humility and serving and suffering for the sake of others. You can’t check that at the door when you enter another culture. I want to state first and foremost that I believe that what people need more than anything is Jesus. I don’t, however, believe that they need to have our version of Jesus. In past years we have arrogantly decided that if the image didn’t originate from the Western church then it is somehow lacking. In this case, Jesus was already there. He was there in the church where we drilled the well. He was there in the eyes of the Pastor and the love and grace of the people. He was there in the way they eagerly invited us into their homes. He was there in the way that they cared for us all through the week as we struggled to acclimate to the climate. All that we could offer them was, as followers of Jesus, according to our ability, the technology and labor to drill a well. All that I, even as a pastoral artist leading a church in these United States, could offer was the power of one. One life, invested for one week, serving on one team, through the efforts of one church, teaming with one organization, drilling one well, for one village. It was all that I had that they actually needed and even if it only changes the destiny of this one child, it was more than worth it and I look forward to doing it all over again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your journey with us.