What mission work means to me
May 6, 2020 / By Walt Mathias, Honeoye Falls UMC
Outreach is a critical component to being an active, engaged Christian. Most of us really enjoy and make a difference by working on the church’s rummage sale, chicken BBQ, or a mission opportunity. My “thing” is construction and rebuilding, typically after a natural disaster. I have done this locally, within New York State, within the USA, and internationally. All geographies offer the opportunity to be the “hands and feet of Christ.”
My most frequent mission opportunity is local. I can serve often at minimal cost and I can show my neighbors on a weekly basis, what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.
International trips enable me to show the greater world another view of what it means to me to be a Christian and an American. Both labels are met with suspicion in many parts of the world. I do not actively preach my values and life choices but seek to demonstrate what it means to me to live and serve as a Christian. I always strive to use my God-given talents to show an example. Often the people we help are extremely grateful for what is done and when they are not, I pray that their hearts have been softened by our example. Judgement is not a productive or appropriate action. I participate because I wish to serve. I participate because I wish to be the “hands and feet of Christ” with all the humility I can muster.
An international mission trip also gives me the opportunity to explore other parts of the world. Understanding the challenges, differences, and similarities expands my worldview. On my trip to Siapan, it was interesting to explore the South Pacific Ocean culture and come to a new understanding of that region in World-War 2 including the multitude of cultural changes wrought by that conflict. It is great to meet new people, the residents we are helping. It is also great to meet new likeminded people who are serving on the mission team. Often the 10 to 20 team members are from many different areas of the USA, uniting for a common good.
Another side of serving on an international team is the group coordinating the mission lodging and project are often not a Methodist group (UMVIM) but some other Protestant group. Being open to “another way” often makes me proud of the UMVIM structure and lets me observe how differences of approach yield better (or weaker) results.
In the end, the goal is to strive to be the “hands and feet of Christ.” Please join me on a mission activity! The great way to start is to help locally as that can be arranged for any week. A local experience lets one sample the experience one day at a time. If it is something that really gets you going, a one-to-two-week trip opportunity adds more richness to the experience. Who knows? You may find out that this is a great way to share your Christan life.