The trip is now over, and the team is together for a 5 hour layover in London. Many of us are using this time to update the blog, so my apologies if there is a confusing flurry of posts. Take a look through and read a few perspectives.
For me reflection at the end of our trip has meant much contemplation over how the body of Christ works. In short term trips like this one the question effectiveness always comes up. Mainly, the question of whether it is most helpful to travel to Kenya, or simply to send the money you would have spent on the trip. It’s a complicated question to answer.
See if you measure results in pure physical terms I think you can make a good case that this trip was ineffective. You don’t get a lot of bang for your buck when you ship 20 people to Kenya. However what I have learned on this trip is that God does not always run his work through the kind of cost-benefit analysis that is natural to us Americans. I didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for this trip, and that turned out to be a good place to start, because I never could have foreseen what this would be like.
To my surprise I don’t think that even half of the value of this trip was in what we accomplished physically. Sure what we did was valuable, but there was a lot more going on. I’m going to have a hard time describing it, but something quite beautiful happened in our partnership with Beacon of Hope. The folks at Beacon are both AMAZING and very different from us. I have marveled at their hearts and the way they process life. But those at Beacon were also obviously encouraged by us as well. Both sides seemed to have a sort of humble admiration of each other.
I lead worship and got to watch a mixed room of Americans and Kenyans sing loudly and dance to “Lord You Are Good”, and then I got to sit down as our friend David led us in a few Kenyan songs that we sang with the same energy. It seemed as though we appreciated David’s leading most, while they appreciated our music. David has some CDs he has recorded in Swahili which we bought from him, and I wrote him a song to the beat of the loom he works on that I will record and email to him.
I admire the hearts of the workers at Beacon and feel like I could learn a lot about life from them, and yet I was asked to give two messages during our stay. I spoke out of John, and then Habakkuk, to I think the most receptive group I have ever stood in front of. I spoke about hope and love, both of which I believe they have a better grasp on than I do, and yet they received the words intently. I had several conversations with people afterward who wanted to talk about what I said or tell me what they learned or just say that they had already repeated my words to a friend that needed encouraging. It was an incredibly humbling experience.
The beauty of our interaction with Beacon was that both of the groups felt like they were the more blessed party, and in that I think I can speak for our whole group. We felt as though we were benefitting more than giving, just to know, work with, and learn from such selfless, loving, worshipful, and spiritually alive people. And yet as we looked at them we could see that they felt equally as blessed (which feels surprising). There was a sort of beautiful selflessness to it, each group wanting the other to be held in higher honor.
This is what I mean when I say that much of our impact was not physical. As I leave I am reflecting on why this strange selflessness happens and how I can hold onto it more in regular life, but all I know is that it has God’s name written all over it. Something beautiful happens when different parts of the body serve and give to each other under the common ground of trying to show God’s love in the world. I am leaving this trip feeling very encouraged, refreshed, and fortunate to have been a part of whatever happened in this last week. It’s a lot to ponder.