My wife was recently gone for two weeks leading a group of runners from Team Oasis on a mission trip to Kenya to visit. They went to visit the children’s home under construction because of the money they raised. While there, they served the orphans and widows at three other locations, including the slums of Kibera. My job, other than to hold down the fort, was to keep everyone’s family and friends updated with daily e-mails. As I reflect on these, I am reminded how God uses our acts of service to not only bless others, but to change us. Here are just a few excerpts to give you a feel for their African adventure…
“Caleb and Eunice shared their early dream for a children’s home and how overwhelmed they are as it is finally being built in Migori.”
“They visited two widows’ homes, which were incredibly small. They listened to these amazing stories of God’s grace and provision. These women were complete outcasts after the deaths of their husbands and are now learning the skills needed to run their own jewelry making businesses. The team bought tons of jewelry from them!”
“Tiffany was able to spend time with the teachers and trained them in new math and reading techniques. They were so incredibly thankful for the new supplies and skills!”
“After church, they gave all the children backpacks filled with school supplies and other goodies. The children all immediately put the backpacks on their backs and walked around feeling so proud. No one took them off for the rest of the visit.”
“Jen decided to blow bubbles for the young children that were there. They curiously watched as she took out the wand, dipped it into the solution, and blew. Then, they all ran in terror as bubbles shot toward them! These children had never seen anything like this and it didn’t take long for them to realize that they were harmless.”
“Emily started asking questions about her favorite Bible story. She opened her Bible and they spent the next hour having an impromptu Bible study on Gideon.”
“The team brought glow sticks and they were a huge hit. Close your eyes and try to imagine a dark room filled with neon lights flashing around as beautiful voices of children sing worship songs.”
This month, my church's children’s ministry will be focusing on the environment of Serving. Based on Michelle Anthony’s book, “Spiritual Parenting,” we will be reinforcing a posture of the heart that asks the question, “What needs to be done?”
I personally don’t always want to ask that question because it may involve sacrifice on my part. Instead of focusing on my sacrifice, I wonder if I should focus on God’s blessing. Before the trip, there were some who were hesitant and fearful. Sacrifice was certainly going to be required – financial, physical, and emotional. When they return, none of them will focus on the sacrifice, but will tell with excitement what God did in them and through them.
The Apostle Peter encourages us to cultivate an others-centered lifestyle when he writes in 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT), “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” My prayer this month is that you and your family would wake up each day and enter each situation asking God to give you his eyes for what needs to be done. What a different world we would live in if we all did that!