Do you want to build, paint, dig, heal, teach or minister? Do it in the name of Jesus Christ — not in the name of the results!
2. Never believe the lie that “God helps those who help themselves.” God helps those who cannot help themselves!
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth — What is it about human nature that demands a pound of flesh as payment due? Nothing in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ substantiates this claim. He loved us first while we were still in sin and then died as sin for us. What did the blind, the deaf and the lepers do to deserve his amazing grace? Moreover, by what means can we today ever repay the cost of our own redemption? Can we really “help ourselves” into paradise?
3. As long as you go out feeling that you have only money or “things” to give (that simply giving of yourself isn’t enough), you are finished. God’s wealth, on the other hand, is inexhaustible.
Imagine going to the bank and withdrawing every dollar you have ever saved. Put them in a big pile and sit in the worst slum of Port au Prince, handing a dollar to every comer. There are about 8 million people in Haiti and most need some extra money to live. How long would it take to empty your treasure box? And even if you could give everyone some extra money, how long would it last until they needed some more? Give up your pride and use as your model the “living water” of Christ which saves us from thirst forever, rather than the transient relief to be obtained from the ordinary water in the well. While faith without works is dead (James 2:17), don’t forget that mission still begins with faith!
4. While we may share common goals with our brothers and sisters in mission (that is, our mutual benefit in reducing the overall level of suffering in the world), the differences in our priorities can be unnerving and downright frustrating, jeopardizing our ability to work together as partners for the common good.
5. Perhaps the first thing we need to define is: What is the “common good”? “Good” for whom, exactly?
6. In order to form a viable partnership in mission we must first recognize and affirm the needs of our partners and then direct our efforts with them specifically in mind — not our preconceived notion of the “best possible solution,” American style.
How do they “do it back in Kansas”? Think again — you aren’t in Kansas anymore!
7. Mission that is directed toward bringing our partner kicking and screaming toward an American ideal is doomed to die a slow and painful death; the discouragement it engenders on both sides may eventually cause our commitments to mission to shrivel on the vine.
Pride comes before a fall, and it can be ugly. How many mission efforts have been torpedoed by this stumbling block?
8. While I firmly believe that we have a duty to offer our partner sound, up-to-date advice, as might an older brother or sister to a younger sibling (and to be prepared to suffer the consequences), we must understand that real partnership in mission begins with a respect for our mutual priorities and needs.
True partnership is sometimes not what we initially envisioned. Is it possible that we can show our love by not doing it as they did back in Kansas, “Oh, we of little faith”?
9. How can we best love our brothers and sisters in mission? By accepting them as they are, where they are and who they are. Easier said than done? Yes! Fraught with all kinds of peril and misunderstandings? Yes! Easily wounded by pride and good intentions? Yes!
10. But let us never forget this challenge: a measure of our love is to what extent we rise to meet it. Partners! Let us move forward, putting our pride aside and striving to maintain the delicate balance of partnership in mission, leaving the results in God’s broad, all-caring hands. This is all we ask, in prayer and obedience to him who loved us first, and makes the sweet fruits of mission a blessed reality.
And on a more somber note . . .
People involved in mission who don’t think that their commitment won’t sometimes be challenged by family, friends and total strangers are living in a dream world. Mission abroad may reap resentment at home. Discipleship comes at a price.
posted Aug. 23, 2001
Howard Jolles, M.D., is an elder, Palms church, Jacksonville Beach, Fla., and an associate professor of radiology, Mayo School of Medicine, in Jacksonville. This article was written on the occasion marking Dr. Jolles’ 10th year as a mission worker to Haiti. Though he now lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., he first traveled to Haiti as part of a mission team from Salisbury church, Midlothian, Va., and has for the last three years continued his mission work through Palms church.