Author: Robin Black-Rubenstein
Why Go on a Mission Trip?
It is an opportunity for us to see with our hearts. If we are able to open our hearts to the world through God’s eyes even just a fraction, the picture becomes a multidimensional view, more than widescreen versus normal format it is a view with depth of feeling. Through television, internet etc. we get a one dimensional view. Although it is “live” footage we see it is not alive for us. It is easier to dismiss something if you have not seen it face to face. It reminds me of a line from the movie Hotel Rwanda. The main character was filled will hope because a camera crew had finally gotten footage of the devastation and the massacre that was happening to the people in Rwanda, he said, “Now the world will see this, and someone will send us some help.” The American cameraman said in reply. “No people will see this on the evening news. They will look up from their dinner tables and say how awful it is and then go back to eating dinner. “
We are human beings. Being somewhere and experiencing it triggers something different within our hearts. Seeing something face to face changes the dynamic for us; a paradigm shift happens. Barbara Taylor Brown wrote in her book, An Altar in the World about seeing huge chicken producing farms when she moved to rural Georgia. “At night, I drove by huge chicken barns lit up inside so that I could see the hundreds of white chickens crowded inside. By day, I ended up behind loud trucks stacked with wire cages full of those same chickens on their way to be slaughtered. .. I saw what dies so I may live, and while I did not stop eating chicken meat, I began cooking it and eating it with unprecedented reverence… It’s also easier to make chicken salad if you have never been behind a chicken truck.”
These are chickens and although I love and adore our animal friends all of which are God’s creations I believe that we can be moved even more when we are face to face with the suffering of our fellow human beings. If we are able to let down our guard and feel another’s pain we are changed. If we like Barbara Taylor Brown see the flying feathers on our windshields as sacred signs to pay attention to what God is telling us it will make a difference in our capacity to love.
I have spent a good portion of my adult life trying to become more aware of other people’s pain. It sounds sort of depressing. However, in reality those times that I was able to connect were joyous. Because it was in those times that I lost track of me (ego). They were times of cooking, cleaning, repairing, teaching, listening, and loving the person I was serving. I am not a saint. I am not alone in this experience. But sometimes we need to be invited to the experience. Often we need to be nudged by someone else or something in or prayers. Look and listen for those moments.
Go and share the Gospel if necessary use words.