Monday, September 29, 2014

The Gift





This summer saw me take  my 18th mission trip, this one to Vietnam for the fourth time. Have you ever been given a simple, but unbelievably gracious, gift? We were so blessed on one of our forays into Honduras. This is from July 15, 2007.

I walked in my door shortly after midnight last evening which was really this morning. There is always a letdown when mission trips are over but it hasn't set in yet- maybe tomorrow. Our flight from Tegucigalpa was weather delayed, allowing our group an extra three hours in Honduras. During our AM worship service, I found myself still emotionally in Central America. The clocks in Honduras and Houston may show only one hour difference but the two locations are worlds apart in countless ways. This morning I worshipped in both English and Chinese while last Sunday our service was conducted in Spanish. Our group of seventy Americans joined a small struggling village congregation to praise the Lord. This church has been beset by problem after problem and yet has survived. They were waiting for us. Their tiny building was too small to accommodate both the regulars and visitors so they improvised. When we arrived, the members had constructed an outdoor sanctuary consisting of leafy branches held up by a network of wooden poles, designed to keep us in the shade as we jointly raised our voices and thoughts to heaven. While we sat under the makeshift protective cover, our Honduran brothers and sisters sat in the sun. With the final amen still ringing, one of the men asked us to stay seated as the church had a special gift for us as their honored guests. On cue, the local Christians began going down the center aisle and offering us Cokes. I most gratefully accepted a Sprite and it tasted so good, I wished we would adopt that tradition in my Texas congregation. As we prepared to fly home yesterday, several of our mission team spoke to Jarrod Brown, the director of Mission Lazarus which coordinates our efforts on the ground in Honduras. Jarrod was telling us about the root causes of the struggles of that tiny church when we asked about the refreshments we were served. I had assumed the congregation purchased the drinks en masse but it wasn't the case. Each member was asked to bring one soda to take care of one visitor...and they did. These good people are desperately poor but they sacrificed to make their new North American friends comfortable. In Philemon 1:7, Paul praised the man the epistle was named for with these words:
"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints."
Refreshment takes many forms; a kind word at just the right time, a prayer on another's behalf, a hug from a friend. Sometimes, it might even fall on the more literal side of the definition. Last week, it came in an aluminum can.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Without a Coca-Cola, life is unthinkable."
Henry Miller


God bless,
Steve
Luke 18:1

www.hawleybooks.com
E-mail me at
steve@hawleybooks.com

3 comments:

hallmark said...

It's always amazing how benevolent people can be. I recall years ago traveling with a group that spoke mostly Spanish. We stopped for a break and a teenage girl bought a Coke and made some sort of gesture that indicated that she wanted to share it with me. After she offered and I accepted she realized that I would be uncomfortable drinking after her, so she opened the Coke and offered it to me to take the first drink. My first thought was to decline and go buy my own Coke but realized it would be inconsiderate to refuse such a generous offer so I drank and have thought of that act of selflessness many times since. To me this young woman became a role model of putting others before self.

Bob West said...

I enjoyed your blog! Great insights!
100 ways to be more loving
God Bless, Bob
http://westbob.blogspot.com/2010/04/line-upon-line.html

Warren Baldwin said...

Great story, Steve. I'd like to "lift" this story for a sermon. With credit, of course!

Steve, would you be willing to consider reviewing my book on your blog?