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Archive for the tag “Short Term Missions”

Peru 2017 Day 5 – Wheelchairs and hospitals

This morning we were able to spend the morning doing the wheelchair ministry. This was the first ministry I did when I came to Peru in 2012 and I fell in love with Peru at that moment. Last year  we didn’t get a chance to do a large wheelchair ministry, but we did house to house.

When we learned our schedule for this week, we were told we would be doing house to house wheelchair ministry. When we arrived, we were told we would be doing a mini distribution at a central site. That’s the best of both worlds! We get to hand out a lot of wheelchairs but not so many that we lose sight of the personal touch.

We transported the boxes of wheelchairs from the Dream Center to the build/distribution site and we started building.

As the morning progressed, we met the people and started handing out chairs. It started with a man named Clever, he is part of the wheelchair ministry in Peru and was leading this outreach today. Clever spent about 15 minutes explaining the chair they would receive.

After that, I had an opportunity to get up and, through an amazing translator, was able to present the gospel message to them. I saw quite a few people raise their hand for accepting the gospel, but as I went around the room later, almost everyone told me that they knew Christ already.

Then we handed out their chairs and modified them for their specific needs.

Once that was done, everyone wanted pictures. The people who received their chair would get their phone out and ask someone to take our picture. We spent the next 30-45 minutes just getting our pictures taken by everyone (and, of course, taking their picture with us as well).

Afterward, we helped people get into their tuk-tuk or taxi, loaded the bus and headed back to the Dream Center for lunch.

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One of the amazing things I heard Clever explain to the people is that the wheelchair is a gift from God. As I was talking to people later, I heard one person explain that the wheelchair is a physical explanation of God. God gave His gift to us in the form of His Son. Unfortunately, we can’t see the physical form of God right now, but we can provide a glimpse of Him through the work that we do.

To many people, God is seen in the form of a wheelchair when we go to them.

Of course God is not a wheelchair, but that is a physical example, something they can touch and feel, that will remind them of the gift that is God.

Once the wheelchair distribution was complete, we headed back to the Dream Center to prepare for tonight’s ministry. Our plan was to prepare over 300 dinners to take to the hospital here. The first thing we needed to do was sift through the quinoa and make sure there were no stones or stalks in it.

After that, we had time before the food was cooked to do some work around the Dream Center. In order to keep us busy, we went through all the toys for the children’s ministry and separated them by gender and age.

Once the food was cooked, we placed it into take-out containers and then into large transporting bins. We got into the bus about 7pm and headed to the pediatric hospital.

Let me explain this. Hospitals here are nothing like hospitals in the states. The sanitary conditions are significantly worse and there is no desire to make the person, or their family, comfortable as they wait. Some people come and wait outside in the courtyards waiting for their family member to be healed or to die. Many have come from far away and have no source of income. Since Peru is a “pay to heal” environment, those family members either need to go home and continue to work or they need to find work in Lima during the time they are there.

It is all very heartbreaking.

We provided meals and took time to spend with the people there.

As it is almost 10 pm here in Peru right now, I am heading to bed as we are going back to children’s hospital tomorrow to serve over 1,000 breakfasts and have to be up at 4 AM.

Peru Mission 2017 Day 1 – Fluid

So Mimi and I are taking another team to Peru this year. We left on Friday morning and arrived late Friday night.

We had our schedules and itinerary in hand and we headed out the door.

The first flight to our layover in Miami was bumpy but uneventful. I sat in the back of the plane while the rest of our group sat in the middle and front. In the back with me were 13 women heading from Baltimore to Miami to have girls weekend away. They all had really flashy shirts and were very loud, but fun. I also had about a 4 or 5 year old child sitting behind me, kicking my seat much of the flight.

Mimi sat on her own in the middle of the flight and, since she doesn’t travel well, fell right to sleep and woke up in Miami.

We get to Miami and were to meet up with a woman I had met a few years earlier at a church planting conference. While we had a few glitches there, it was pretty easy to get together and we headed off for some lunch and our first devotion of the journey.

When we got to Lima, we located Paige and Stalin, our guides, and they took us to La Victoria, the area of the place we would be staying.

La Victoria is a very different area than where we have stayed in years past. It is the inner city. Smells of marijuana and prostitution are done in the open here. There are gangs in this area and random packs of dogs roam the streets.

This section of the city is up almost 24 hours a day.

As I sit here right now typing this, I hear about 5 different songs playing throughout the city, someone is shooting off fireworks, and car alarms go off quite frequently.

The place we are staying is a chapel. It is 5 stories and in the middle of the city. The outside is black and white and all of the windows have bars. There is a man who sits just inside the door and opens it for people who are allowed in. Every Sunday, this chapel, the smallest of the 5 campuses of Camino de Vida, has 350 regular attenders.

The first level of the chapel is the church. It is really just a big black box style. They can transform the room into whatever they want it to be for the day. It can be church on Sunday and then on Monday turn into a wheelchair build site.

The second level of the chapel is a kitchen and offices. The missions offices are housed on the second level of the place. There is also an occupational therapy facility on this level.

The third level has a sewing ministry where they make all the shirts for their missions program. They also have a meeting room and a place where people can come and get clothes for free.

The fourth level is where short-term missions teams like ours stay. There are bedrooms for the women and bedrooms for the men. They also have a “living room” where short-term teams can hang out and unwind.

The fifth level is storage. All of the maintenance equipment and paints are kept up here. They also have a small outside living room that overlooks the city. I am hoping to get to use that a lot more later this week.

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We arrived about 1 AM and went straight to bed. I couldn’t sleep and spent the majority of the cold night laying there in prayer, thought, and yawning.

The next morning came and we ate breakfast and had a quick devotion before we gathered together for orientation. We learned that a few days ago someone had come and sprayed graffiti on much of the building.

I have to say that my heart sank a little when I saw it. 2 years ago my team painted the building, the sidewalk and the bricks. It was a long couple of days, but we did a really nice job. Seeing it tagged with graffiti was a little upsetting.

We were told that we would be spending the day painting the building again.

We gathered all the materials and started in at painting at about 11 AM.

We finished the outside of the building by 12:30 and sat down to eat lunch.

It was a little late to do our original plan of evangelism, so we decided to help Paige get the chapel ready for church tomorrow. This meant a lot more painting. She wanted a few levels of the steps painted as well as one of the offices so that they could move furniture out of another larger office to use for kids ministry in the morning.

We broke up our group and started going to town on the painting.

We finished about 5:30, got cleaned up and headed off to dinner.

It is now 10:30.

The city is alive and very, very loud. Many people are sleeping with ear plugs or ear buds in to drown out the noise. While I am exhausted, I want to take in the sounds of the city. I might not sleep, but I want to experience what the people of La Victoria experience daily.

Tomorrow we will be tourists. We are going to start our day at the chapel and attending church and then heading off to enjoy the touristy side of Lima.

More on that tomorrow.

Love Knows No Borders

1 Corinthians 16:14 – Let all that you do be done in love.

Tomorrow my team leaves for Peru. The church prayed over us and officially sent us, now we just need to get there and start working.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been to Peru. I’ve been 4 of the past 5 years.

This also isn’t the only mission journey my church has gone on. A few years ago we started running multiple journeys and we have seen some pretty awesome groups go to various places such as Navajo Nation, Costa Rica, Peru, and Haiti.

Haiti so touched the hearts of the people, and our senior pastor, that the church purchased a school of over 200 kids. Many of those kids were fortunate to get 1 meal a day. After purchasing the school, the kids are now getting at least 2 meals a day and a lot has been done there to improve the conditions of the children and their families.

But what should the church’s position on missions be? I have heard a lot of different views, even among my own friends.

Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.

There is one school of thought that believes short term missions do more harm than good. In this view, the only successful mission is one in which the sending church invests in the long-term both with resources and money. The belief goes that a short term trip only offers a week-long missions vacation for the people going and there is no long term benefit from sending people to them.

I disagree with this view.

Of course the goal of missions is to see long-term relationships built and communities move from struggling to thriving all while giving praise to the God of Creation. But I do believe that short term missions have a very important role in the missions strategy of the church.

First, short term missionaries don’t have a “tomorrow” in the field. They can take some risks that long-term community missionaries can’t. They are able to take the gospel to people without fear because they don’t know any better.

Second, almost all short-term mission journeys are overseen by a long-term missionary group or family. If that is the case, these short-term missionaries can be a great source of relief for the receiving agent. Many times the long term missionary comes from the United States, where we are coming from.  This gives the long-term missionary someone to discuss life with in “American” terms. This can recharge and refuel the long-term missionary with the energy and excitement of the short-term group. It also gives the long-term missionary some extra hands to get some bigger projects done that may not have been able to get done if it weren’t for the extra hands.

Third, and I think this is the most important one, it changes hearts of the short-term missionary. Every year I have seen one person take on a new appreciation for missions and ministry. The first year it was myself. One year I saw the senior pastor’s granddaughter come home with a new energy that is still happening to this day. In one of our church’s Haiti trips, one of the women went on to become a long-term missionary to Nepal. All of these people may not have had this energy if it weren’t for their mission trip.

2 Corinthians 10:16 – So that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s area of influence.

But them there is another school of thought about missions. In this school of thought, the church believes that short term missions are the only opportunity for a church. Many of these churches either don’t know how to set up a long-term missions program or they believe that they only way to assure the money they are spending on missions gets to the community they want to serve is to send it down with a short-term group.

I disagree with this school of thought as well.

If a church only focuses on short-term missions then they are not following the great commission. Short term trips are great for hands on the plows and boots on the ground. But there can be no long term discipleship.

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Christians are called to go and make disciples all around the world. We are not just called to dig a well or build a kitchen or build a wheelchair. We need to support programs that make disciples.

So I want to suggest to all churches out there that we follow a short and long term missions strategy.

This would be to support long term missionaries worldwide through both resource support and sending while also supporting short term missions through doing youth group trips, domestic, international, and others. This strategy gives everyone an opportunity to participate and it gives God an avenue for changing hearts of people, both the sent and the target.

We should never limit God by telling Him that only short term or long term missions are the answer. God can, and will, use all strategies to change hearts and lives.

Check out my new post on Church Central

As you know I post some stuff on the Church Central website, hosted by Thom Rainer and his group. Check out my post over there about what short term missions and leave a comment for me there.

http://www.churchcentral.com/blogs/reasons-for-supporting-short-term-missions/

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