To summarize, we traveled to Rochester, New York to assist some churches there in reaching out to their communities. In the mornings, our group led a small bible club for kids and helped churches with different construction tasks. The real fun took place in the evenings. This was when we helped three churches come together to put on a VBS for their neighborhood. The churches were a primarily Caucasian church, a Latino church, and a Bhutanese/Nepali church. The ethnic diversity alone made it fascinating. It was a blast discussing the gospel with kids and adults. In the above photo you can see some of the kids in the VBS class I taught. The best aspect of the week for the churches was their cooperation with each other; I hope this continues. For me personally, the thing I won't ever forget is the new relationships.
Several keys stand out from our time in Rochester:
Unity in Christ bridges all gaps - There we were, a bunch of Southerners in the middle of a northern city. We were surrounded by people who don't drink sweet tea or eat grits. However, we had sweet communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ. One night, we enjoyed a terrific meal and time of fellowship at a Dominican couple's home. Despite the racial and cultural differences, we were one in Christ. It makes me long for heaven.
Ethnic diversity is beautiful - I don't say this because it is politically correct. I say it because it is true. At one point during VBS, I gazed across our VBS table and saw white kids, black kids, Latino kids, an Indian child, and a Bhutanese child. Wow!
Churches need to help churches - We have a tendency in our churches to focus on our own needs. "Membership" often leads to an us/them mentality. This trip confirmed to me the importance of churches helping one another. We are not in competition, but cooperation in the global mission of Christ.
Unstructured Christian fellowship is sweet - This trip gave us plenty of opportunities to spend time with other Christians outside of the typical church setting. We were able to have many discussions within our group and with our new friends. Growing relationships based on Christ is invigorating.
Trips help you get to know one another - Whether you want to or not, mission trips make you get to know one another much better. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Too often the church environment is sterile, with everyone putting on their best behavior. On this length of trip, you get to see people's strengths and weaknesses. A church family needs to know one another as we really are.
Soil is different in different places - The change in scenery was a good reminder to me that soil is different in different places. Rochester is a tough place. The hearts of the folks there do not seem to be as open to the gospel as are folks in the South. The work may take longer there. This is why we need to help.
I realize this is a relatively short summary of our trip. I may discuss it at later times. However, this is a good synopsis for now. I thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity. I thank Him for brothers and sisters in Christ in far away places from different cultures and backgrounds. I thank Him that we will all spend eternity together before His throne.