Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Christian Nonprofits, Missions Trips & Bloggers: Part 1

I am not a famous blogger, 
but this lady is: Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.

Jamie is a rebel and I connect with her.
She's not the typical status quo "Christianeese" Christian.

She questions things. 
She points out hypocrisies in Christian culture,
in Christian nonprofits, and in ministry today.

I admire her.
She makes me laugh.
She's real, vulnerable and not perfect.
Much like me.

She says things I'm thinking
 She's gutsy.

I follow Jamie. 
Did I mention, I am not a famous blogger?
Jamie's latest blog hit home.

In my blog post yesterday, titled FEAR...
I challenged myself to write everyday for a month.
And Jamie's post today inspired me.

In 1996 my husband quit his "real" job, 
 started raising our support, 
gave up our health insurance
and began taking teams to East Africa.

In 1997 and again in 1998,
 I went on a summer missions trips with he,
and this fledgling nonprofit. 

I left my four young daughters with friends, 
puddle jumping across the Middle East,
because it was the cheapest route. 
I wanted to know what my husband saw, felt, smelt 
and experienced when he traveled for work.

The trips were amazing, 
but very challenging.

Culture shock, 
"funny tummy",
strong smells of diesel, 
rotting garbage, 
and BO ,
extreme poverty. 
I struggled with the mental side effects from antimalarial drugs,
and pure unadulterated exhaustion as we worked from dawn to dusk, 
often eating dinner at 10 or 11 pm.  
(As a morning person, I am useless after 8 pm)

I questioned a lot of what I saw
and did.
The testimonies given invoking a "show of  hands of those 
who had "asked Jesus into their hearts"
bothered me.
Somehow the numbers were very important.
(How else will the people back home know their money was well spent?)

The feeling of complete futility as we tried "to make a difference."
The various conflicting theologies of the various churches we worked with:  
"you can lose your salvation and burn in hell for all eternity", 
to the Pentecostal 
"Jesus wants EVERYONE to be wealthy, healthy and prosperous."
"Just have faith."

The Americans we led on the trips 
posed their own challenges.
From immature, to defiant, 
to downright ugly American aggressive
"Those people need to do it our way!"

It was confusing.
I came home unsure.
"Is this really how God works?"

My husband LOVED his work.

And then our son was born,
 I couldn't leave an infant.
I kept the home fires burning.

And then my boy was diagnosed with cancer,
and sixteen years have flown painfully, agonizingly by.

My husband didn't travel for almost two years as he and I focused on our son's health.
And when he finally went back,
everything had changed.
new national staff, 
new bosses in the states,
new programs.
He was no longer connected,
he didn't seem to fit in anywhere.
He wasn't second to the founder anymore.

Slowly, by slowly he began connecting again.
And the nonprofit had some amazing, successful programs,
due to the sacrificial work of the national staff.
The programs are now beginning to blossom.
Feeding programs in the slums.
Slum chess programs which produced a three time Jr. National Champion, 
Gardening and Trauma Care in the north where the Invisible Children tried to hide from Koni.

Now, sixteen years later, I am headed back,
I am pinching myself.
I was called to childhood cancer work.
I wasn't called to Africa.
But I've learned to live by the motto:
I'm willing to be willing.
Because I believe God asks us to be OPEN.

And after I serve,
my Summit Sister and I will climb Mt. Kilimanjaro!

But that's another post...

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