Mark was in my youth group in California. The youth were planning a mission trip to Mexico to build homes for some of the poorest of the poor. His parents were forcing him to go with us. He was not happy about this. He made his anger very clear to me and everyone else heading to the border.
As part of the prep for the trip we studied Mexico and we studied the Bible. We read Micah, especially paying attention to his rhetorical instruction to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” We got very clear about what we were about to go and do and why we were going to do it.
None of that mattered to Mark. He was just ticked. He sulked through every orientation meeting. He hardly said a word on the long drive to the Amor Ministries campground south of Tijuana. Then we met Maria and her children. We were going to be working for her family, building a very simple little two room house. Mark was transformed. He worked hard and loved playing with Maria’s kids too. He was an awesome member of our team.
On our last night in Mexico, as we gathered around the campfire to celebrate our work and worship God, Mike said, “I wish I had known this is what being a Christian was all about. Why didn’t you tell this is what it means to be Christian, Glen?”
We had, of course, but he had to get his hands dirty, he had to meet two little kids who would be able to sleep in a dry and safe house for the first time in years. He found out what it meant to be a follower of Jesus when he put some sweat equity into his religion. Then he knew, then he could see his faith at work.
On that mission trip the kids loved to sing, “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” One of the lines proclaims,
We will work with each other, we will work side by side,
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride…
Working side by side produces dignity and love. Serving God opens our hearts to the very possibility of our faith being made real.
Grace and Peace to you,