I recently led a trip to Boston with some of my youth and these were some of my reflections that I thought particularly applied to our conversation here at pomoyogo. Enjoy!
Every year, tons and tons of people go on missions trips. They use all sorts of patterns or templates to guide their time: street evangelism, dramas, construction, service projects, medical, relief work, etc. I’ve been on a variety of trips across the spectrum and have carefully designed our summer Flipd experiences to reflect a variety of ideas that I believe are core for students to understand and grow into as they grow in their faith.
In Boston this week, we’ve been consistently asking God to help us see all of our experiences through his eyes. What does he have to teach us, to show us, to remind us of? Whether we’ve been worshipping in a service full of people that sing, express, and look differently than us or we take an afternoon to be with a “friend without a home”, we want God’s eyes to see the inherent value and worth of every individual.
It’s easy to label people. Urban or suburban. Employed or unemployed. White or black. Christian or non. Safe or dangerous. Homeless or housed. And while categorization helps us navigate life, it can also create walls of separation. Think about a someone without a home…someone we normally call a “homeless person”. We use the word “homeless” as the defining adjective and we place it first, making this person’s housing status more important than their personhood status, that they’re created in the image of God. So this week we’ve been meeting people and getting to know their names rather than their labels, asking God to show us “that of Christ in every one” (to borrow some old Quaker terminology).
And the beautiful part about it is seeing our students jump in wholeheartedly. To see their eyes light up as they share about their new friends. To see them encourage one another and take a step forward to serve without being asked. To consider the immeasurable amount of provision they experience in their life every day. We take a week this summer to serve others far away so that we can be reminded that there are those to serve close at home and that Someone actually served us first. Christ identified us first as his creation and considered us worth sacrificing for, worth saving.
Some may ask “did you share the Gospel with anyone?” We share the Gospel with everyone…the Gospel of a lived love. God’s love story is written to us not only in theological statements or particular prayers, but is written in the language of living, of sacrificing self, of serving. We look to the life of Christ and we see teaching, yes, but we see more living and being with people. Much of our work this trip is serving those who share the Gospel, cleaning up trash and landscaping and preparing so that our friends at the Jubilee House, at Pilgrim Church, at South End Salvation Army can do the work with people that they have the relationships to do. Along the way, we’ve also tried to gain perspective and to learn as much as we can about what it’s like to have a different sort of life than the one we experience every day.
And through it all, God is opening our eyes to his beauty. To the beauty of someone who hasn’t taken a shower that recently. To the beauty of someone who’s clothes are a bit older than ours. To the beauty of provision of needs rather than wants. And we rejoice with all in this beautiful Gospel of simple living before and extravagantly loving God.