E-pistle August 7

Mission in the Global Village
Our Mission Committee met this past Monday and among the discussion items was an update on our work with Promised Land Ministries in Guatemala.  Most of you know that the work of our mission teams has been centered on the invaluable and irreplaceable service of our LPC physicians in the make-shift clinics organized by PLM in the villages along the shore of Lake Atitlan.  Team members also staff the pharmacy that travels with the clinic and provide programs for children at the clinic or in the villages.  And often some of our folks serve on construction teams helping with building the school or mission center in San Lucas.
It’s no secret that while the doctors and pharmacy workers provide a service that is not readily available to the people of Atitlan and that the children’s program are an adjunct of the clinics, the construction work could be done by local labor. It costs around $1,500 for a North American business or professional person to travel to Guatemala for a week of work he or she might do as an occasional weekend warrior around a suburban spread not much like a Guatemalan village. Your mission team is aware of and sensitive to this reality. Are we being faithful and good stewards when we send our teams off to Guatemala or elsewhere in the developing world?
Not for the first time, we recently asked this question again of our friend Jorge at PLM.  His answer was candid and I thought right to the point:

From the monetary point of view I guess it would be best to just send funds for this but I think it is also important to bring people to come down and be part of what is happening here in such an experiential way. This is how people have caught the vision for Guatemala and are so willing to help and be part of what we are doing here.

In the clinics we don’t just offer diagnoses and remedies, in the children’s programs we don’t just bring crafts and games, and in the construction work we don’t just pour cement and stack blocks. In all we do we come along side PLM to help them build lives that are firmly founded on the solid rock of Christ and his love. This kind of construction work is always arm in arm, face to face and one life at a time. In the end it’s not our physicians’ amazing skill that is the greatest gift we have to offer – the greatest gift is not even ours to give, just ours to share: the grace of God and his redeeming love in Jesus.  It’s the exact thing many of our Guatemalan partners, sisters and brothers in Christ, share with us. 
On Sunday in worship you will meet a friend of mine from Brazil, Pastor Vander of Igreja Presbiteriana de Iacanga.  Iacanga is a small town in the interior of Brazil about 400 km northwest of Sao Paulo. Vander wants us to know about the work God is doing in Iacanga he wants us to know a little bit about the people God has called him to pastor.  And he wants to know you.  I’ve been talking and he knows that you are an amazing group of God’s people and he wants to know more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in this strange land of ours he’s never seen before. 
Of course, Vander would love to have a relationship grow between the people of Langhorne and the people of Iacanga.  I have told him candidly that I am not sure that this is the time – we have work to do in Guatemala and Hunting Park.  But I am sure that God always delights when his people get to know and love each other. And that’s the way God is.
Some of you will be called to Guatemala this winter.  Not so much to share construction skills or medical knowledge as to share God’s love.  Some of you will bring a book or paint a room for the children of Hunting Park Christian Academy.  But our mission won’t be complete until we get to know some of those kids and share God’s love with them face to face, arm in arm.  Someday some of us may find ourselves in Iacanga, Brazil.  But only in God’s time and always delighting in God’s delight when his people work and share together.