I recently went on a mission trip to Tijuana, Mexico, going down with a group from South Church and working with Mexico Caravan Ministries. When I signed up to go I was expecting to go down there and build a bunch of houses, pushing myself physically to get as much done as I could. In fact, even before I left I had told the Mid-Michigan Agile Group that I was going to find ways to apply Agile principles to make the house building more efficient (and when I got back I gave this presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/18Xzs1YF6Vc4P45-PRh_IAdcIUQYcqSFrvlX9m1tQGNw/edit#slide=id.p).
Boy, was my head in the wrong game! As it turns out, Mexico Caravan Ministries is not a house building ministry. Mexico Caravan Ministries is missions mobilization ministry. Specifically it is focused on giving young people a chance to experience short term missions, with the hope that some of them, who don’t yet have a career or a family yet, might be willing to go into the mission field for 2, 4, 10 years. We spent at least as much time building our relationship with God, understanding of scripture, and knowledge of global missions as we did building houses.
So what does a former ScrumMaster with a family and career who wants to do a lot of physical labor while taking vacation do? Very much like the history of Caravan, I adjusted to my surroundings and changed some of my goals. First off, I focused on relationships over efficiency. I played with the children that we were building houses for. I talked to the high school and college students from my church. I had to admit that efficiency isn’t the most important thing in every context. Secondly, even though I did still look at some ways to “improve” processes (I did have a presentation to think about after all), I reflected on myself quite a bit and how I needed to be improved. Even though I don’t anticipate partaking in any long term missions myself, there are many ways that I can positively impact the world for the glory of God. One way to do this is through discipleship. By working to build up new Christians I can equip them to be a light in the world, and maybe they will be the ones to go to the deepest, darkest recesses of the earth, to reach those who have never heard of Jesus. Another way for me to be more like the man that God wants me to be is by being bold in my faith. For far too long I have defined my worth by what other people think of me, which has caused me to compromise my morals to win their favor. The truth is, the basis of my worth is the fact that I am a child of God. That is a value that does not fluctuate, does not diminish with time, and really doesn’t even depend on me at all, because it is entirely reliant on grace (Ephesians 2:8). I’m not going to be smacking people in the head with my bible, shouting “repent! repent!”, but I need to make sure that I’m living a life that will cause people to ask me to tell them what it is that makes me different, and I need to allow God to use me for each one of those opportunities.
If I get the chance to participate in this trip again I’ll be certain to go down with a different attitude and a different goal, and hopefully I’ll get even more out of it.