If you read my story yesterday, you have some idea of how my involvement in missions began. I’m going again this summer; back to Merida Mexico. Our church has been returning to the same place every other year for 20 years and now it has become a long term relationship for us. Here’s how it began:
In the early 90’s, two friends met at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando FL, Kevin Burrell and Wilbur Madera. Upon graduating from seminary, Wilbur returned to his home town of Merida Mexico, Kevin became our associate pastor at Faith PCA in Watkinsville GA. They were miles apart, but their relationship continued. In 1995, Wilbur issued an invitation for Kevin to bring a team to Merida to help build a church. At the time, Shalom was only a small group of friends meeting together in a home and all they had was a piece of land, nothing more. Our church sent a team to help with the construction; first a gymnasium, then an education wing and a sanctuary……….. all mostly built of concrete mixed by hand and poured one bucketful at a time.
The new church thrived. When their personal facilities were completed, the projects moved outward to other locations: San Pablo Seminary, Blas Pascal Christian School, churches in Maxcanu, Chablekal, and other parts of the Yucatan. Shalom grew and the message of hope, that God loves and wants to save his people, spread throughout the Yucatan Pennisula.
We are not the only church who helped build Shalom. There have been many churches from all over the southeastern US who sent teams to assist. The work has been anything but dramatic. We haven’t dropped a bomb of spirituality on our southern neighbors, but rather one small pebble at a time – stone by stone, block by block, bucket by bucket, relationship by relationship, one story built upon another. And God has blessed our efforts. The church we helped plant has not only impacted their city, but the whole region.
In my opinion, the reason this ministry has been so successful is because of the relationships that were developed years ago that have continued throughout their history. The prayers and sweat of brothers and sisters in Christ from different worlds working together to achieve a common goal. That is what makes these mission trips worthwhile. Remember, the church is not the physical structure; it is the people within its walls. Someday, years from now, all of the physical structures that we helped build will crumble and fall, but the relationships will last for an eternity.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We are living stones, part of a network of believers who form an international team, sacrificing our time and resources to help build the kingdom of Christ. Individually, we are no more than a single pebble in a bucket full of stones; together we become the house of God.
Mugs raised high! Here’s to building the kingdom!