For several months, I have been waiting for this day. The most asked question of me regarding this trip is, “Are you nervous?” And I’ve almost always answered, “I don’t know what to be nervous about!” I still feel that way early this morning, although I will say the normal things kept me up: Did I pack everything I need? Did I remember my …? Oh, don’t forget to grab …! The things that once I’m out the door, I will no longer need to worry about.
And that will be soon.
I am traveling to Burkina Faso, Africa, today with people (mostly pastors) from nine different churches, with Pastor Herb Buwalda (Lead Pastor at Clay Church) as our guide. He went to Burkina Faso last year with a small group from Clay and is now taking others to share in seeing the dry land, meeting the amazing people who live there, experiencing and witnessing the needs they may have there, sharing the beautiful love of Jesus Christ, and being open to the Holy Spirit to show us how else we can become involved in their lives.
We will gather soon at our youth center to finish packing our bags. Between the nine churches, we are taking nine extra suitcases filled with hot shots (a handy device that helps prevent a snake bite from killing someone), pillowcase dresses (somewhere near 500 of them!), enough Legos and building blocks to fill a car trunk, medical supplies, a flannel board and several boxes of pieces to tell Bible stories, candy for the children we meet, and gifts for the missionaries there.
The toys were collected by our FaithWorks! kids and families. Again, I am delighted at their generosity! I really, to be perfectly honest, did not expect to have an entire trunkful – and by trunkful, I mean a hatch loaded to the back window! – of Legos and blocks. If you think about how tiny an individual Lego and/or block is and do the math, you can begin to understand how generous they have been.
I love this because I believe it means we are reaching these kids. Their families are reaching their kids. Our church is reaching our kids. We talk every Sunday about Jesus, obviously, and the deepest desire of FaithWorks! is that the children who walk through our doors come to know Him as their Forever Friend, obviously.
Yes, Jesus came to save us from our sins and restore our relationship with God. But in addition to that, Jesus came to teach us how to live. There are many stories of Jesus serving others and when He washed the feet of the disciples, well that’s the one we teach the children most often when we want them to remember, “What would Jesus do?”. I was reminded yesterday, as I was reading N. T. Wright’s devotional “Lent for Everyone” on YouVersion.com, that He actually said what He came to do.
In Luke 4, we see that Jesus went to his hometown and to the synagogue as usual. There, he stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah which was handed to him. He unrolled it and found the right place and read:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me.
He has anointed me
to tell the good news to poor people.
He has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners.
He has sent me so that the blind will see again.
He wants me to free those who are beaten down.
19 And he has sent me to announce the year when he will set his people free.” (Isaiah 61:1,2 NIrV)
Then He rolled it back up, told everyone that this was happening right now, and sat back down. That was the first time He publicly said what He was all about. He was basically saying that He was bringing Heaven to earth.
Over the past seven years, the FaithWorks! kids and their families have provided the tuition for a four-year high school education for two boys at the Mission on the Move boys home in Tapachula, Mexico. They have given treats to teachers at the school next door. They have collected food and packed 2,300 meals for students at two elementary schools in South Bend. They have stocked the Clay Church food pantry. They have shipped over 700 children’s books to the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina. They have helped sponsor a Compassion Child. They have written notes to soldiers. They have given basic, hygiene supplies to Project WARM. They have supplied birthday party supplies and birthday cakes for children living at the Hope Ministries’ family life center. They have dug nine wells in Burkina Faso.
I’m not rattling off this list to brag. I’m not rattling off this list to give them a pat on the back. I’m rattling off this list to show how they are sharing hope, love, and encouragement – in a big way. They rise to the need. And they overwhelm me with their generosity every time. They are helping to meet the basic needs of kids around the world they will never meet. They are helping bring Heaven to earth.
These two go together: finding that we need Jesus as our Lord and Savior and calling on Him as that, as well as bringing His kingdom into the lives of others.
And that’s how we roll. That’s how faith…works…
And these children encourage me, stretch me, challenge me to do the same. Have a blessed week and I look forward to sharing with you pictures and stories about this trip. Pray with me that God show us how else we – you, me, the FaithWorks! kids, their families, our church – can bring His kingdom into Burkina Faso, Africa, and around our world. His world.