We often think in moments, in events, in experiences. We function, often, in short bursts but expect high capacity and return, yet struggle with why we aren't more deeply fulfilled. Unfortunately that is sometimes how short term trips get categorized.
One of the challenges that our teams have undertaken, has been to look past the subjective value that we assess to our trip. We've been improving on that over the years, or as Tyson says it: "8 years ago we were a problem, one year ago, hopefully we are less of a problem." What he means is that we are still learning, and we have made mistakes, and we are continuing to evaluate ourselves, through the filter of God's Word, God's Mission and the example that Jesus gives to us.
We're only half way through our week, and we are receiving some excellent teaching/challenge from our two guest instructors: Mark Crocker (stmleader.com) and Jonathan Martin (author of Giving Wisely).
The question of long term sustainability is our big question this week. It poses a challenge to consider and refine all that we do: how we relate to nationals, how we work, how we train our teams, where we work, who leads us, succession of leaders, discovering resources within communities and most importantly viewing people, not as needy, but as those in whom there is God-given capacity. Sustainability requires to consider the question: "Will it last beyond me, my experience?"
Too often we look for solutions, quick fixes, and photo ops. However, as our teams have been discovering, as we slow our natural tendencies down, we can learn to imitate the humble, self-sacrificing example of Jesus. For it is He who relinquishes his privilege, his power and his position in order to draw closer to people, to allow them to recognize their capacity and to encourage, challenge and assist them to use that capacity with the resources that God has provided within their community.
We also think we need to give: money, food, stuff...as though they are going to address the deep and multi-layered problems that exist beyond our perception. This may be necessary in an emergency relief situation, but in the work of rehabilitation and/or development they only do more damage. The hero syndrome that we all want to feel actually keeps those we think we are helping in a position of being perpetual victims, waiting for the next hero to appear.
As we learn to relinquish the aspects of our lives and character that separate us from others, we are more prepared to enter into mutually beneficial relationships, listening, learning, sharing stories and sharing experiences. These stories and experiences may happen in a moment, but they feed into the development of a sustainable future that will last.
We're putting together another team to come to El Salvador, what do you need to relinquish in order to step into the unfolding of God's Kingdom? Why not join our team and discover this together with us?