Today was different! I woke up with an excitement that matched my thirty-four fellow teammates. Today was the day we would travel to a remote town in the Dominican Republic to build a church. I admit I was skeptical. I am no carpenter, and from the looks of my teammates, it didn’t appear as though too many of them had experience in construction.
But we all crowded into small buses laughing and singing, excited to encounter a new act of giving. Although I was having fun, one huge question kept looming over my head.
Should we have all stayed home, sent in our money and paid to have real builders produce a beautiful church?
Our buses struggled to get through the potholes on the dirt roads. It was pitch dark when we arrived not a glimmer of electricity anywhere to be seen. Fear arose as we crept into territory that was foreign to us.
Walking in groups of four with flashlights guiding our paths we set out to meet the people. Most were receptive however a machete was drawn at one home. I held tight to my daughter as I promised her father I would not let her out of my sight.
In the morning I sat attentively waiting to get my assignment for the day. I was sure I would be working with the children. That probably was where I was most gifted. To my surprise, my daughter and I were on construction duty. The assignment was unbelievable to me, how could God use me to build?
I am not very big or strong.
Together, my daughter and I, shoveled sand, mixed cement, and moved cement blocks. Our primary job was to fill the blocks with cement. The two of us lugged cement buckets back and forth and used our little hands to fill the holes with wet cement. Physically I had never worked so hard.
Word traveled quickly throughout the town, “The Americans are here to build us a church.” All day people came out of their homes to see what we were doing. Many joined in to help that day, but one boy, “Mundo” in particular, stole my heart.
Mundo was deaf and so excited that he could join in and be a part of helping his community. He worked without ceasing, all day long in the hot sun. He solidified the idea that we all have the ability to communicate regardless of the language we speak.
All day long hugs and smiles spoke more than words ever could.
I saw the love and sweat pouring into every detail of this building, and so did the people of this community. They understood we had left our comfortable places in the US to build them a church. They were eager to have their questions answered. “Why a church?” “Why not clothes?” “Why do you care about us?”
“Who is this God you talk about?”
Slowly but surely my mind was changing, and my question answered. I went on this mission knowing I would have no problem loving the people but skeptical as to whether sending money would be better. I left knowing that the money could have bought so much more in materials, but …
This church was built full of God’s love and our love.
Most important the people in that town knew that. I now know giving of myself was the wisest decision for me.
They were so excited to learn why we would take the time, effort, and money to do it for God and them. Many wanted to know who our God was and how to get to him. We eagerly answered their questions.
The last night we left we held a church service inside their new church. Even without a roof on the building the people came in their Sunday best, crowding in to hear the very first message spoken. It was evident that God’s work had already been started in that town by a local pastor and we were just a small part of a bigger picture.
I left with a heart full of love, gratitude for the experience, and the hope that I would see many of them in heaven one day.
I know not all of us can take a mission trip nor does God call us to do that. Indeed each of us can step out into areas in which we are not qualified.
God will equip us!
I would love to hear in the comments below how God has equipped you when you felt you were not qualified.