Spring Run Presbyterian Church

One Critical Lesson I learned from the Missions Trip

I recently had the privilege of taking my wife and two daughters on a missions trip to the Dominican Republic. We went with an organization called Edify that helps encourage and equip schools in some of the poorest parts of the DR.  Our task was to put on a Vacation Bible school like camp for about 100 kids at one of the schools as well as paint the classrooms.m

Before we started, our leader, Tiger Dawson, a former Young Life staff and now president of Edify, told us not to let the task interfere with building relationships.  He wanted to make it crystal clear to us that building relationships was more important than accomplishing the task. So, if conversations with the indigenous painters we were working alongside slowed our painting down then so be it.  Being with the Dominican people and building relationships was more important than finishing painting all the classrooms.

I really believe this made our work much more enjoyable. While we definitely had a task to do, we also had the freedom to put the task aside for people. People are more important than projects. The relational process is more important than the end product.

One of the key questions people were asking us before we left for the trip was, “What are you going to do?”  The unspoken expectation was that we were going on a missions trip to “get something done”. After all poor people need things done for them, or given to them, don’t they?

We learned that being with people was more important than doing for people. Our new friends at the school needed someone to just be with them, loving them and caring for them more than they needed their classrooms painted.  Our culture usually does not see things this way. We tend to put the project before the people. It’s why so many of us resonate with the Home Depot commercials, “Let’s get it done.”  Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing bad about getting a project done. But we need to radically think about the process not just the end product.  Some of the men who discipled me the best did it while we fixed a fence or built a patio or changed brakes on a car. The process of the project involved being with one another. These men could have done the project much more quickly and efficiently without me, but instead they chose to do it with me. It took longer, it was messier, we had to redo a few things but my life was transformed as they shared their life in Christ in the process.

My prayer is that as I kick into full gear back at the church I won’t forget that people are more important than projects and the process is more important than the end product.

All for Jesus,

Fletch

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