3 Amazing Missionary Tips
from Mother Teresa
Hammers slammed, drywall sliced, stucco flew, and rain poured "angry on the tin roof." Thanks, Edwin McCain (I couldn't help myself although this post was entirely unrelated to your song). However, a few lyrics from it are my memory when I recall and consider those spiritually teachable moments in the rain.
Today I am remembering the few weeks I spent in Juarez, Mexico with a friend's family and a bunch of manly men from a group in south Atlanta. We also met up there with Jason, a representative of Casas por Cristo.
Casas por Cristo is an organization works in partnership with the local Christian leaders in Juarez and Acuña, Mexico, and in special locations in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic. They coordinate families and teams from the US and Canada to come build homes for families who have typically pieced together their existing shelter with cardboard and crates. The requirements for receiving a home are for the family to lack housing and/or not to have sufficient means to obtain it. Fortunately, small plots of land in these areas are cheap, and all the Casas families do own their property!
The week I was there we worked side by side with a special family and assisted as the walls came up for their new home. Even though the clueless hands of 13 Gringos supported Jason, the small two-bedroom house went up in two and a half days, the foundation to wiring. Now, we were no Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (returning to be aired after things calm down in the world), but we were most definitely willing hands. And I did get to have ONE photo opp in the few hours it wasn't raining.
We were happy to assist God in the blessing of giving a family a roof over their heads. But while nails slammed, drywall sliced, stucco flew, and rain poured on the new roof a valuable lesson dawned on me: we weren’t the ones building the house.
YOU might even be interested in a trips with Casas when things get back to normal.
Check out their awesome (and short!) video promo to just get a little taste of what you would experience on one of their trips:
They truly can use ANYONE in these trips. For example, though there were some on our team with construction experience, it was Jason who orchestrated the structure of this small edifice. He did several important things ... shovelling, insulation, etc. But he was only able to do them when he knew he had us all working together on one project, no screw-ups on his radar.
When we all had our various jobs, he hiked around, making sure we weren’t nailing through the electrical wires or hanging chicken wire on the outside of the concrete. Overall, he taught us. He worked us through it, nail by nail. If we stood back and looked at our piece of work with pride, we had only to remember that Jason guided a group of sixth graders through the same process the prior week. Slightly humbling, right?
Remember that GOD is your teacher.
There are many people with years of experience as Christians and many who have one biblical degree or another. There are a lot of folks new to the kingdom of God who continue to seek more of the Word. And some who grapple with understanding His existence at all. But overall, it is God who orchestrates the structure of His kingdom.
There are a lot of great teachers in the Bible. But as an experienced task manager, God likes to work with us, and overall, He lovingly teaches us. If we stand back and look at personal pride over anything He has built, we have only to remember what happened to the Tower of Babel and what it still symbolizes as a project built without his blueprints.
Let's take a look at Zechariah's fifth vision after he asked the angel of God what on earth the lamp-stand of solid gold meant:
The Messenger-Angel said, “Can’t you tell?” “No, sir,” I said. Then he said, “This is God’s Message to Zerubbabel: ‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. ‘So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you’re nothing but a molehill. He’ll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Yes! Yes! Do it!’”
Zechariah 4:4-6, MSG
God's messenger told Zerubbabel that he was going to "be" something, right? But how? ONLY by God's power, of course.
So. Think of some example of God working in your life. He may be working behind the scenes, but He is indeed still working, building, directing ... God is the ultimate teacher, especially if you are allowing Him to use you. And He is still working behind the scenes -- on me, on you, and all of us.
And He will do GREAT things through us! What a blessing! But ...
...we MUST remember that we certainly aren't doing it ourselves.
Something to think about, right?
Remember the purpose of "building
for God" in the first place.
I read this lovely little piece from the district manager of Village Missions who said, "When Christ calls us to be His witnesses, He intends for us to function as effective tools in the hands of His Spirit." I love that.
We as humans tend to live under the delusion that God needs our greatness. Nothing accredits us to God. No one can brag before God. We can only claim to have accomplished anything significant through Him, because of Him ... whether we are inspiring a mission trip or a movement, building a house or home.
"You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."
Ephesians 2:20, The Message
Amen? It is a verse our church memorized together a couple of years ago and one that is truly a transforming truth. We are assisting in building His kingdom but even more important is that we are also a part of the temple edifice itself.
And we are being BUILT.
When you hear the expression, "He's such a tool," you already know it means someone is being inauthentic and just mimicking the beliefs and actions of others. And you don't want someone to say that about you. Unless ...
...unless they are saying that you are simply a tool who is always willing to be used by God, a tool that is part of the body that is being built. Christian books penned, the bible deliberated, and mission trips planned yet we can still all learn that valuable lesson: we aren’t the ones who are building -- or doing any of these projects for that matter.
Remember that if YOU don't do choose to serve Him, God will get someone else who WILL!
You are an instrument of GOD, fit for the Master's use. We as humans tend to live under the delusion that God needs our greatness. Nothing accredits us to God. No one can brag before God. We can only claim to have accomplished anything significant through Him.
God raises people for his work when he needs them. You need only to be willing, or you had better bet your fancy tool belt that He’s going to get someone else to do it, and you are going to miss out on all the fun! It was blessed Mother Teresa who told Time Magazine that she was merely "a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."
I'd say you're in pretty good company.
Back to Juarez. The most exciting moment for me was when Jason tested the lights and ... wow, they all came on! My surprise was not unwarranted because although I am married to an electrical engineer who mainly deals in computer engineering, he has a major handle on wires too. I, however, do not. He knows this. (If you have read my former posts, you may understand that I tend to burn things accidentally). BUT! MY job while everyone else started on the stucco was to hook up the outlets. Man, that made me nervous. However, and I am still shocked at this, the lights even came on. I breathed a big sigh of relief!
Is it okay to feel pride in your work? Of course, it is! It is just that, to truly build successfully, one has to remember these three things Mother Teresa also encouraged -- to successfully build for God it is helpful to remember Who the teacher is, what His purpose is, and that, well, we’re kind of expendable!
“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labour in vain.”
I'd instead grab a hammer and throw a smile at my brother with the handsaw. Then labour a little in rain instead. ;-)
I'll bet you would too.