On my mission trip to Eluethera this past spring, the biggest surprise for me was how hilly it was. On this narrow island, I was expecting flat beaches and wooded areas, with small towns on level ground.
The great part about the hills is that you can get above the trees and see what the island really looks like. I don’t think I need to tell you that this Bahamian island is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.
On our first night, my friend (and local missionary) Keith Doster shared how his family got involved in various ministry work since arriving in Eleuthera:
“We had a list of things we wanted to do, but when we got here, we stopped and surveyed all that was going on. We saw where we could get involved. We looked to see where God was already working, where we lined up theologically, and where we were excited to be involved.”
Now as are settling back into Greenville, I am seeing Keith’s words as encouragement and wisdom.
Surveying Downtown Greenville
Greenville is just as hilly, or more so, than Eleuthera. Likewise, there are many things already going on here, that we need to survey. We need to get a bigger and wider perspective. We need to observe before taking action.
With my job at Mill Community Ministries, we know that we will work with children. But at this point we don’t know exactly what that looks like.
Like the Doster family, we must do these things as we begin to serve and work:
- See where God is already working,
- Figure out who we can partner with,
- Jump in where we are passionate.
Before we left Allendale, we attended the funeral of Sam Rice, a neighbor and life-long resident of that community. The officiating pastor explained that Mr. Sam lived by this motto, “Notice what needs to be done, and then do it.”
We would do well to follow his example.
Since mid-July, friends have been asking, “When do you start working for Mill Community Ministries?” Even before we moved here, I would answer, “I think I have already.”
I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting and talking with people. I’ve been walking around the area. I’ve been surveying (informally and formally) and taking in the perspective.
But I haven’t had a task list or a program from Day 1. And this has been hard for me. After 3.5 years of doing in Allendale, it’s hard to not do.
And even as I look around, I already see so many great things going on in this area. So I wonder, “Are we really needed here?” Some folks, including the guys who hired me, seem to think so. So, I will trust in their wisdom and leadership, as I keep moving forward.
In another way, these last few weeks have been humbling, and I presume the next few months will be, too. We were able to accomplish a lot in Allendale, and those accomplishments made me feel good. But I have to remember that my identity and value is not based in what I do or how I feel, but in the God who created me and in He who did the ultimate work at the Cross.
God can use me more in my weakness and my uncertainty, than He can in my self-proclaimed strengths and knowledge. David Mathis writes:
“Here, then, is the paradox of the gospel as it relates to leadership. It’s the poor he makes rich, the weak he makes strong, the foolish he makes wise, the guilty he makes righteous, the dirty he makes clean, the lonely he loves, the worthless he values, the lost he finds, the have-nots who become haves.”
And for every time that I am sure that I have the right plan, I can remember these words from Jonathan Pearson:
“We have to allow God to invade our space. We have to allow God to be in everything we do. From the time we get up to the time we go to bed. Look for God to invade what you’re doing. Look for God to improve and bless the very things you’re already good at.”
I have more to learn than I have to do.
And that’s the perspective that I need to keep.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6