This week’s blog comes from World Race: Gap Year participant, Elina Landin, currently serving in Ecuador. For more of her stories from the field, check out https://elinalandin.theworldrace.org/.
Photos of dancing in a field with underprivileged children, buying an assortment of fruits from the bustling city market, painting the walls of an inner-city orphanage.
The concept of ministry as the world knows it, is foreign in the world of a global pandemic.
Handing food to the children of Africa isn’t as picturesque with a mask on and 6 feet apart, but maybe that was never the point.
As the first World Race: Gap Year squad of 2020, we’ve run into challenges in every corner as the first ones to go on an international mission trip in the middle of a pandemic. With questions of different medical guidelines unique to every location, international travel being restricted and our ministry opportunities becoming a fraction of what they used to be.
No more taking the public bus into the cities and experiencing the buzz of foreign life. No more face to face interaction with the people we so desperately want to help. No more groundbreaking encounters in the streets of the slums. Instead, we head off to the remote Ecuadorian mountains, given a hammer and a bucket of paint to replace an old roof.
In many ways we’ve had to mourn our expectations of what “the World Race experience” would be like. Our hosts have instructed us not to go into the city at all because the risk is too high, since anyways, we came here to help others not spread risk to more people.
That simple statement made me think.
So much of our concept of missions is skewed into an image of adventure and saviorism, glorifying ourselves and the idea of helping others at the cost of ignorance. My own reluctance to serve by doing long days of manual labor with no outside experience of the country, revealed my own selfishness in ministry.
I didn’t give up nine months of my life to travel the world and take appealing Instagram photos, I gave up nine months of my life to serve the Lord and serve others, and sometimes serving others means nine hour days spent on a roof, with dirt and dust finding a way into every crevice of your hair and face, it looks like back aches from hauling pounds of cement tile, even shoveling cement into holes in the road. That’s ministry.
I believe that many times we can dismiss opportunities as important because they don’t fit the prototype that the world advertises.
Ministry is the same way, Jesus doesn’t stop working when we put our masks on.
I am reminded of Moses in the desert. Moses was brought up by God, performed great signs to free the Israelites from slavery of the Egyptians, then led the Israelites through the desert for forty years. After the tiresome work of traveling, Moses and the Israelites reached the land of Canaan, the promised land, peace and the fruit of all his labors. However, Moses never entered the promised land, he died right as they arrived, in a sense, never seeing results of his service.
Arguably one of greatest and most influential characters of the Bible is shown never getting gratification for his service. I believe this is not only intentional but insanely important.
It can be incredibly easy as a Christ follower to allow the work the Lord has called us to do as a personal stamp of superiority and goodness.
The pandemic is just another reminder of his constant glory and sovereignty.
So if following His will for me means sunburns from being on top of a roof all day or waking up at six o’clock with sore arms from endless hammering and passing out before 9:00PM: I am more than honored to be apart of it.
Thank you, Father, for not stopping when the world does.