One of my favorite thing in Haiti this past week was hearing more stories about Haiti. Stories of the peoples’ lives, stories of God at work, stories of past trips. As Dan was sharing some stories one night from a previous trip he kept bringing up the phrase, “Think Like a Missionary.” I loved this concept and have to say that as the week went on, there were multiple times “think like a missionary” popped into my head and forced me to think outside the box a little. I thought I’d share a few examples:
The first situation that comes to mind is during our first VBS. We had brought a craft to do with the kids that involved making an angel necklace out of Ideal clamp paperclips a bead and some string. We debated back and forth whether to do it all at once to or to separate out groups of kids to go do it a few at a time. We ended up trying it all together since it was such a simple craft. This may have worked fine… if there were only 150 kids there. We only brought half of the supplies the first day because we knew we had other churches to go to later in the week but forgot to count how many kids were there before starting the craft. Opps. We very quickly realized, as kids were swarming us for more supplies, that there were MUCH more than 150 kids there! While very exciting, we had a problem on our hands. “Think like a missionary” popped into my head. The end result was cutting some of the longer strings in half with Pastor Allen’s pocket knife and using some of the extra “heads” (beads) we had to give to those who did not get paperclips. In the long run, it ended up with some kids only have heads and others having decapitated angels, but hey, the gospel was proclaimed and we chose to give God the glory and ask him to give us better wisdom to handle the next VBS in a better way.
The thing with going on a mission trip is that you plan and plan and plan… and then are flexible when plans change. On the schedule we had, that first VBS on Tuesday did not exist. This meant that we needed to figure out what we would do on Thursday when we were back at the same church, in Les Cayes, with some of the same kids, but also a lot MORE kids. We already didn’t have enough supplies the first time for a craft so we needed to figure out what to do. “THINK LIKE A MISSIONARY.” Our first task was to figure out a skit. Through prayer, a conglomeration of previous skit ideas, and some brainstorming sessions, God provided us with a fun way to present his saving grace in a way kids, who didn’t speak English (with missionaries that didn’t speak Creole), could understand. We also decided to make friendship bracelets for the kids because we had a ton of Embroidery Floss. So Wednesday night we set out to make 400 bracelets (we wanted to make sure we had enough). My camp experience had taught me the quickest, easiest way to make many bracelets in the shortest amount of time. Wednesday we set at our task and made close to 200 in about 45 mintues. But this wasn’t good enough for some of the guys on our team. After dinner, Dan broke out the drill. We perfected our system and before we knew it we had nearly 450 awesome bracelets ready to hand out to excited children the next day. 🙂 Now that’s what I call, thinking like a missionary. (Video of the process to come soon!)
One last example is simply in communication. We tried our best to learn some Creole before heading to Haiti, and some of the children have picked up some English here and there, but often, “communication” did not come in words. I am reminded of passages in the New Testament where Paul talks about doing whatever it takes to communicate Christ to people. Often on our trip, we were forced to “think like a missionary” and find new creative ways to communicate with the people we came in contact with.
The more I think about this, as I’ve written this post, I’ve realize how much I want to “think like a missionary” more and more in my everyday life. So often we keep God in a little box, we do things the same way because, we’ve always done it that way before. I am reminded again of the story that I talked about in my last post of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus wasn’t asking the disciples to do some impossible task by feeding this people, though that is how they felt. Rather, he was challenging them to “think like a missionary” and turn to the one who has an abundance to give. Did Jesus feed the 5,000 people in the ways the disciples were originally trying to solve the problem? No, but there was enough food. Did we have enough supplies to make the craft the way we originally intended? No, but we had enough beads and string to send the kids away with something to remind them that God is always with them.
What is it in your life, and in mine where we need to start thinking like missionaries and turn to the one who may not always do things as WE think best, but always has more than enough?!?