Thursday, September 7, 2017

Where the Losses Are Personal

The hammering and sawing has gone silent for a few brief minutes as our team of ten, The Get'er Done Gang gathers around a few tables in the kitchen of the Pass Creek Church. Although we won't depart until tomorrow, we're already aware of closure. Nearly all of the work has been completed and the clock is accelerating.

Tim and Kim, the pastors and missionaries here to the Oglala Lakota tribe, both have oncoming pressing matters. Another recent death has the native community honoring her life with their traditional three-day wake. They have asked Tim to accompany the body along the route, and to act as pastor. He'll be leaving early this afternoon to honor their requests, engaging in a three-day wake and shoveled burial. 

Our team sees the love and compassion of God lived out in the lives of Tim and Kim. She's leaving as well to make a trip into the city to take care of some necessary business. And so we find ourselves here in this room, in this moment, so that we can pause to give thanks, recognize the work done, and hand over some cash to cover some immediate needs.

I begin by presenting our letter of gratitude and Dan hands over the financial gift. Connection Point Church of God was asked to raise $2,500.00 and they gave generously, donating over $4,000.00. What a blessing and joy it is to see their gift go to spreading hope here in this beautiful and desperate place.

I comment that our recently articulated vision for Connection Point is to be "An army of God's servants, doing the work of God with love and compassion." Kim speaks up and adds (my paraphrase) "Yes, that resonates strongly with us here. What you've seen here, now you must take it back with you to your community."

With a nod to the words of Jesus, "... you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth," 

Kim says, "This place is your Samaria. The culture is a little different, the customs and languages are different, and the people's skin are a slightly different color. When you go back home, that's your Judea. There the culture is like you, the people speak like you, and their skin color is the same as yours. Your challenge now is to take that love and compassion that you've lived out here in this place, and to offer it to your neighbors, your city, and to your family."

"You must take it home, and live it out where the losses are personal."

Whoa. That's really it isn't it? How difficult is it for a group of people to go to a faraway place and exercise love and compassion? How much harder might it be to risk extending love, generosity, and compassion in your own backyard? You don't get to love'em and leave'em. You have to live with them every day. If they humiliate you, reject you, or threaten you... you can't just jump back in the van and travel away. 

Faith must come home. The losses must be personal. This is how we fulfill... no, how we live out our mandate to mourn with those who mourn, to weep with those who weep, and to comfort those who need comforting. This is how you and I bring light into dark places. We have to risk. We have to give. We have to love. Sometimes we even have to sweat, bleed, or die. We have to be willing to get down in the dirt right where we live... because we all need the love of God.

Our eyes must be open to the reality that our homes are also the mission. If we aren't living to reach others right where we live, then we aren't really doing it at all. What is it costing us? What are we risking? What might your co-workers, neighbors, and family say about your mission? Are you willing to lose, to sweat, to bleed? How much do you love Him? How much do you accept what He has given you?

The hammering, the sawing, and the sounds of building have nearly gone silent, and now our real work is about to begin.

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