The New Year is off and running, or should I say sprinting! In just a few days we will be swearing in of the 44th president of the United States. President elect Obama will take office next week and will take the reins from George W. Bush. I hope all Americans are praying for a smooth transition and the Obama and his staff will do a good job in office.
People are anxious in a turbulent time and my prayer is that God will continue to watch over us and bless us and that our country will prosper and be a light to the world in economics, industry, research, education, benevolent outreach and example. I also pray that we as a nation will seek God’s wisdom and purpose and that we will be a nation devoted to Him and His word. I hope that Obama, along with all of our elected and appointed officials, will seek after Him. Of course the Bible is clear: God places people into power and removes them and He directs the affairs of men. God has a plan and a purpose for us.
And of course it all starts with each one of us individually. We kid around a lot in my family about the north and the south. Margaret’s family is from Pennsylvania, or Northerners (or even Yankees) as we say here in the south. Of course all of the McDowell’s have married southerners and live in the south. Even Madre and Padre have moved down to the south to live. We kid around and tell the family that the war is not over and we are taking prisoners one person at a time! It all starts with one person doing their job. I did my part. Jake did his, and so did Keith and Lynn. Now we have all of the parents, children, and grand kids living in the south. It is now time to focus on another family to capture! Watch out Steffys!!!
All kidding aside, the way we re-establish our country to God and Christian principles is one person at a time. It is really hard to deal with the big picture when the small picture is messed up. Local congregations must take an active roll within their communities if we ever want to make a global difference. When things are amuck in Christian homes, youth groups, life groups, and congregations, things will most certainly be running awry in towns, cities, states, and countries. Sounds simple but in reality it is a big job, but somebody’s got to do it. So let’s start with you and me.
It is going to be pretty hard for Obama to fix what it took millions of people to break. It is going to be pretty hard for a preacher to fix what lots of people in a congregation messed up. It is hard for a youth minister to fix problems in a youth group that has many different working parts to problems. We sort of have all of this backwards when you think about it. We want to appoint, elect, or hire people at the top to fix the things that are broken down below. And of course in some ways they can with the right training or expertise. But putting people into place up top really doesn’t do anything unless we are willing to work on it from our perspective.
A perfect example of all of this is college and professional football. If a team fails to win the championship or Super Bowl, if a team has a mediocre season of a losing season, what happens? Fire the coach. Get a new coach, a new offensive coordinator, new VP of operations. Replace the people at the top because it was their fault. But, was it really? Or was it lots of individual players not doing their jobs? Church having problems? Get a new preacher. Youth group not growing? Get a new youth minister. But this is not always the fix-all. Sometimes it is the easy way to temporarily fix a problem. It doesn’t matter how big of a Band-aide you put on a wound if it has not been cleansed! Paying attention to the little things causes the big things to fall into place.
The same holds true for our mission trip to Honduras. Spending time to work on the small things concerning our trip will help the big things to work well. It is not about numbers. It is not about how many people we take on our team or how many houses we build or how many people are baptized on the trip. Sure, those things have their place, but that is not what it is about. It is all about getting YOURSELF ready for the trip. Aligning yourself with God’s will. Purifying YOUR heart. It is all about your preparation for the trip that makes the Torch experience work.
If each of us works on our part, it makes the individual group leader’s part work correctly. That in return makes the team leader’s work run smoothly. By taking care of the little things it makes the big things work well. It is all about the little things. Having a trip journal that helps individuals process and reflect on the trip. Having an adequate place to sleep each night. Having a packing list to help remind us of what to bring (and what to leave behind). Having volunteers to run the “bank” and to keep up with our valuables. Having someone like Carlos who converts money for us into $20 packets to make our trip run smoother. Finding good, responsible, and skilled bus drivers to drive our buses. Having a man like Maximo deliever food orders directly to us for food distributions. Daniel’s lumber yard that specifically cuts our wood for us to build our houses. I could go on and on but the point is taking care of the small things so that the big things work. And when the little things work you notice a big difference when the big things work.
Everyone going on this trip plays a very important part to its success. Whether you have been a dozen times or a first time “rookie,” everyone does their part. This is described by Paul when he talks about the way the body works. Each part plays its part to make the body work. The body is not complete without the ear, the eye, the nose, etc. It is team effort for sure. And when all of the parts work in harmony the whole body functions well. Whether you are a doctor, nurse, or a physical therapist working on the medical team, or a Spanish translator or a VBS volunteer, we all work together to make the torch body run in harmony.
I hope you will start checking the blog often. I will begin posting more and more information about our upcoming trip, as we get closer to our date. Right now I am watching the airline fares to see what the market prices are going to do. Right now ticket prices have dropped significantly in the past couple of months. Round trip tickets on American directly into Tegucigalpa are under $650 (including taxes!) are showing up on the Internet. Groups might want to start looking and reserving soon since none of us have a clue what the price will be down the road. But if we can fly into Tegucigalpa with a good fare it would save a lot of time and headache by not flying in and out of San Pedro Sula. Please stay in touch and let me know what your thoughts are and what your plans are going to be.
Looking forward to a great trip this summer. Hope you are too. Until next time, take care and God bless.