Who knew that a service project could be viewed with such suspicion?
I am excited to get to lead a group of students on a short global connection trip. The idea is to give these students the best opportunity to see what God is doing globally and to foster a love for people worldwide. We will do our best to see the country, experience the culture and connect with the people. We also hoped to do a simple service project with some local children only to find that it may actually set the gospel back or even give it a black eye.
On my last trip, we were able to help a rural women’s clinic by funding the purchase of an ultra sound machine and some other much needed medical equipment. All of which was received with great appreciation and what seemed to be a stronger closer relationship with those in the area. A win-win and the knowledge for all those involved that women and children were being better cared for who couldn’t have afforded the medical care any other way.
Over the past year our high school students have raised a good deal of money to help fund this year’s project. It is so cool to see our students have a heart for people they have never met but know that Christ wants us to love. As several possible options were researched we kept running into unforeseen obstacles and roadblocks. Finally, someone said, “You do realize that people in that area of the world see help, financial gifts, or service as a way that we try to buy their faith?” Gifts and services without relationship are met with suspicion or worse, downright contempt.
If someone began to give my daughter expensive gifts, I would do more than question their motives. I would stop the gifts and return whatever had already been given. I don’t want my daughter feeling obligated to whoever this might be with whatever motives may be behind the gifts. Start with a relationship. Get to know the person and the family, and give gifts appropriate for the depth of the relationship. I get it, but when you are the one truly wanting to give, it is hard to understand others not trusting your motives. It is hard to wait when you see the need and know that you can help, even before you have developed the relationship.
All this is to say, “Yes, we are taking a short term trip, and no we may not be doing a service project.” Our goal as stated above is to give students the best opportunity to see what God is doing globally and to foster a love for people worldwide. This is our best chance to get them excited about moving overseas long term to build the relationships that allow depth and a real chance for the gospel to be seen for what it truly is, the free gift of God and the relationship that goes with it.