I am trying something new. In the beginning, I wrote that I wanted to have this blog be something different than my newsletter. Since I now have a Facebook page, a WordPress site, and a newsletter, I am going to have each be different. This is going to be about insights and learnings, more like a blog. My Facebook page will be more about the ministry as a whole. My newsletter will be a combination: both pieces in the same location.
I recently returned from a men’s weekend retreat on the Oregon Coast. The speaker spoke about life verses and challenging verses from the Bible. The speaker’s challenging verse was John 21:20. My verse is Matthew 28:19. John 21:20 is where Jesus says, “As my father sent me, I send you.” Matthew 28:19 is where Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” I feel challenged towards Matt 28:19, because the verse is not about calling, it is a command to go and make disciples.
In high school I felt called to mission, but I did not really known what form of ministry I was being called to. I am now joining a team in second poorest nation in Western Hemisphere, during my four years after high school at university, my calling became clearer as I spoke to missionaries about it.
During the weekend the church group that I spent my weekend with felt challenged towards how to respond to poverty. In Newberg, there is poverty, but I have done almost nothing to help in the short-term or the long-term (besides tithing to my home church that supports local ministries with the passed around offering collection bowls). During our last evening campfire, one of the gentlemen asked what do we do when we see a man with a sign on the street. We all shared stories ranging from giving money while verbally saying “in the name of Jesus Christ”, to times we may have felt burned, to providing love instead of money, and a few extreme instances. We were not sure which of these responses were the most correct, but felt where some were wrong (ignoring people with signs, treating them as invisible).
During this campfire talk, my memory went to my Juniors Abroad 21-day trip to South Africa, specifically my time in SOWETO. The government there tried to create solutions to get men out of poverty, but those plans were not fully thought through. My memory then went to my week in Nicaragua with ITeams Masatepe last October. There is a Pastors Association in Masatepe and they noticed the alcoholic men in the community getting drunk and passing out on the corners at night and remaining while people left for work in the daybreak of morning. The pastors wanted to do something long-term, but did not have the means. Once ITeams Masatepe was beginning to gain trust and influence, the pastors approached the team leaders about brainstorming solutions. The compassion was there, but giving money would not have helped. Unemployment is at 50%, and jobs are hard to come by. The creation of hog farm and chicken farm on the property of an alcohol rehab center was decided would help the most of the alcoholics.
These memories seemed to flow freely to me, I did not go searching for them. This two-year ministry may teach me more about how to care for the impoverished. Thinking of long-term solutions and to show that the ones that feel invisible know that they are seen and heard. I shared this with those around the campfire and they appreciated my input of how we tend to look for how to help the person with the sign in the moment (or ignore them) and we almost never followup with them. We help them out for an hour or a day, but most likely not longer than that. This is why I am excited to work with ITeams in Masatepe to learn about how to take care of someone in poverty for more than just in the moment and keep those lessons with me as I continue to serve in Masatepe and where God sends me next.