IT’S ONE THING TO STUDY THE BIBLE. Reading and talking is easy.
Living is the tough part. Putting into practice what we’ve learned: Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Recently, I’ve wondered who my neighbor is.
We’ve talked about this in my Bible study group as we’ve explored mission projects to undertake.
I’ve been lobbying for a mission trip outside our region. We’ve done plenty of good stuff nearby. But my gut (or perhaps the Holy Spirit; it’s sometimes hard to tell one from the Other) has been prodding me lately to help the group venture outside our comfort zone.
A Bible study buddy of mine, Dave Rock, went with me last week on a mission trip 700 miles from home: to a mountain top in rural Kentucky. We didn’t do anything there that we couldn’t have done here. We built a 36-foot-long wheelchair ramp.
We spent two days traveling and two days working.
The argument against that is if we had stayed here, we could have spent all four days working.
But I’m wondering if the bonds of friendship that you develop on a mission road trip is worth the travel time.
I had great respect for my buddy Dave before the trip. But after spending four days and nights with him and the team that went with us, the repectometer has punched itself off the scale. It has something to do with seeing great drops of sweat drip from the bill of your buddy’s John Deere cap, while he’s volunteering to help someone he doesn’t know and will probably never see again.
That happens in local mission efforts, too. But these long-distance missions seem to magnify everything. From the respect and the friendship to the backaches and the blisters.
Could it be that the more you suffer the more you appreciate who you’re suffering for…and with? And the more you understand that your neighbor is anyone who’s in need, and who’s within your reach…near or far?