It was a sunny Sabbath in Pucallpa and we had about 20 people getting baptized. We decided that since we Americans were staying at such a ritzy hotel called the Manish which had a beautiful pool, the Peruvians could come to our hotel and we could have the baptismal ceremony there.
Now mind you the ERC mission trip I just got back from to Pucallpa was the most elaborate and fancy mission trip I have ever been on. This mission trip was not a survive in the jungle, live like the locals, or even eat or act modestly. Instead the trip was built like a vacation at a comfortable and glamorous ecological hotel so that we the participants would have the opportunity for quietness and safety to study the scriptures and prepare for our evening sermons.
So here we were having the baptismal ceremony at this elaborate hotel and pastor asks me if the woman who were getting baptized could use my room to change into before and after. And of course I said yes.
When the Peruvian woman who were getting baptized saw the room I was staying in with my roommate there mind was blown. Most of these people lived in the slums and had never seen such white fancy comforters with window curtains and a huge mirror. They all lavished in the opportunity to come in and sit on my bed and use my large clean bathroom.
After they were baptized they came back into the room soaking wet and cold. They tracked in dirt and mud. But they were just so excited to be changing in such a clean place. One younger girl instinctively picked up my fancy brush and started brushing her head with it. Even though I cringed inwardly I decided not to say anything and watched as she brushed her hair with joy. These people were not used to such cleanliness and luxury.
After they left, I had a choice to make. I could either be delighted in the fact that I had the opportunity to share my large and clean room with these people and celebrate with them the best day of their new lives with Christ, or I could whine about how my clean room was now trashed, smelly, mud filled, and my brush probably filled with lice.
And I think as we go through life encountering different situations we always have a a choice of how we will respond to what blessings we are given as well as what tribulations or inconveniences. And we must choose what we will do with the gifts and privilege God has given us.
You know, I don't mind my fancy hotel room becoming dirty and gross because 10 people just gave their life to Jesus. I don't care if they cover the room with mud; these people live so poorly every day I am happy for them to get to use my bedroom. And pity if the American girl gets lice for two weeks. I unlike them have blow dryers, washing machines, and lice treatment. My problem is easily fixed.
It's easy to stay in a clean place, living the "American dream", and send a little money to help the orphans. It's easy to think that you care about other's needs and to convince yourself that short term trips or kind thoughts are really changing lives.
But do you honestly care enough about others that you are willing to sacrifice your personal dreams, goals, or possessions? Is missions a hobby and a travel opportunity or is it a way you live?
It bothers me that my favorite starbucks drink can provide six Peruvian meals to children who are hungry. It troubles me that I have more clothes that fit in my closet and I am constantly throwing things away.
I didn't sacrifice anything to let the Peruvians use my hotel room for one day- afterall it is the hotel staff that cleans my room. And I didn't sacrifice anything to go to Peru for three weeks with the ERC trip- I had a great vacation, learned more about God, and ate great food.
But living a missionary life- like a real life like Jesus- I think it requires more than the occasional 5 star mission trip. I think God is asking for more than a little donation, a couple weeks of our time- I think He is calling us to more.
I don't want to limit my service to Jesus to when there is only 5 star commodities. I don't want to serve only where there is good healthy food, hot water, and air conditioning. But my prayer is that I would be able to humble myself- that we would learn to serve wherever we are. That we wouldn't be afraid to be dirty- disgusting- gross- smelly- poor- hungry people. That we would be more afraid of not following God's call than afraid of following Him to scary places or to lives of sacrifice.
I'm tired of living a rich American life and going on feel good mission trips. I want to do something more to fulfill God's calling for me to a life of missions.