On Monday morning, just hours before the team was supposed to arrive, I sat down to have some quiet time with the Lord. No sooner had I asked him for a word for the week than I felt the spirit impress “with” on my heart. What may seem like an odd and unrelated word to an outsider, I knew exactly what He meant. Rewind twenty four hours prior when I was sitting on the plane from Indy to Houston reading Bob Goff’s new book Everybody Always. In it, Bob talks about how the Bible can be summed up in one word – with. God so desires a relationship with us, and He put us on this earth with each other to share his love. God was telling me just to be with – with Him, with the team, and with the locals. I was to spend time with the people in front of me, encouraging them to spend time with God and share the overflow of His love with others. I look back on the week and see fruit of walking obediently in His command – to just be with this week. The following are a few of those stories.
My co-leader, Bill, is an incredible man of God with seventy years of stories that he loves to share. The reason this story is entitled santa is because Bill looks exactly like Santa. In fact, he plays Santa regularly around the holidays. Story time with Santa sounds like a dream come true, right? Right. Except for one minor detail -we had a million things to do to prep for the team and limited time to do it. I found myself on more than one occasion trying to hurry Bill along as he opened up to me about different experiences in His life. After awhile, I felt God telling me to slow down and appreciate what He is offering -be with him. Sometimes it is so easy to prioritize our to do list over our relationships, but we worship a relational God, not a transactional God. Once I took the time to fully buy in to what Bill was sharing with me, I was so glad I did. He has so much wisdom and experience to share and became such a blessing.
Early in the week, one of the students asked me where the bathroom was and instead of trying to explain the labyrinth of halls in the warehouse, I chose to walk with her. While we were walking, she shared with me that she had a special reason for coming on this mission trip. It turns out that her grandfather is really sick and is not expected to live much longer. He recently shared with her that he had always wanted to go on a mission trip but regretted that he never went. So, she told him that she would go on this mission trip, take pictures, and share all about it with him so that he would know what it was like. He gave her his sweatshirt to take with her, and she faithfully carried it around with her all week -to serve, to meals, and to nightly sessions. This sweet girl stepped out in faith to grant a dying man’s wish at such a young age. I admired her servant heart and felt honored to be a part of this story.
Wading Waist Deep
During one of our ministry days, our team had the opportunity to take donations out to communities that were severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Several students and I loaded as much stuff as we could carry in our arms (a case of water, meal kits, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and toys), and wandered down the street in search of someone to bless. After knocking on several doors with no response, we were finally greeted by a friendly face. As Jeannette opened the door of her trailer, we explained that we were with the church and had some donations that we would love to bless with her with. As we took them inside and unloaded them on her kitchen table, she told us that this was going to make her cry. We then seized the opportunity to ask her about her experience during Harvey. She explained that her and her family had to wade a long distance through waist deep water to get to a location that they could be rescued. They were then displaced and forced to live with her parents for three months while they waited for repairs to be completed on their trailer. Unfortunately, the funds provided by FEMA weren’t enough to cover all of the damage; so they were forced to make some makeshift repairs on their own. When we asked this sweet lady if we could pray for her and if there were any specific prayer requests, she just asked that we pray for our mission. So we laid hands on Jeannette to pray and hugged her several times before parting ways from our new friend.
There are so many stories like these from this week that I could share, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stop here. These show the value of spending time with the people God puts in front of you. Everyone has a story worth sharing, and a lot of times, they’re just waiting for someone willing to listen to it. Take the time to hear out the stories of the people in your life. God placed them there intentionally, and not only could you bless them with a listening ear, but you could be blessed by what they have to share. Who could you spend some time with today?