I was on a conference call yesterday with a couple prominent leaders of two different humanitarian aid organizations. These men are solid believers who want to see not just physical needs met, but spiritual needs met as well. “Social Justice” has been a buzz word the last few years; and Humanitarian Aid organizations are a part of the buzz. Some have even become polarizing among churches and individual Christistians because of the organizations practice of providing aid (food, water, shelter, medical, etc.) or aid-plus (the Gospel, education, etc.). We’ll return to this phone call in just a bit…
About a week ago I posted the first in a series of posts that touch on a similar theme. Through these posts I am basically asking the question about how a youth leader, church or leadership team should go about choosing a mission trip. The first was entitled, “Their Needs vs. Our Wants.” It built a case that we should be more mindful of the “need” of a receiving area then just meeting the “wants” you have as a group. The second was entitled “Us/Them.” This post essentially gave a little balance to the first by making the point that you can both meet needs presented to you and see discipleship/growth take place in the lives in your group. I believe this is done through training and has little to do with your destination.
Today, we bring in this “Social Justice” aspect. We’re just a blink of an eye away from another natural disaster, whether something happens today, next week or not for a few months, something will happen on this planet that will tug on our heart-strings. It may not even be a natural disaster like an earthquake, hurricane or tsunami; it may be a Depravity Disaster you become aware of (sex-slavery, violence and crime-rings, neglect of children in the inner-city or rural setting, etc.). Regardless, our hearts will break and we’ll feel a natural, Spirit-born desire to do something about it. And we should! Sometimes the call is for financial support; other times we’re called to action… called to go.
Even as I write this blog a “tweet” just appeared in my TweetDeck from a nationally known Pastor “find a need and meet it.”
Let me get back to that phone call with the two humanitarian aid organizations (both have national and international influence). We (Youthmark) are specifically looking at a specific area of need, an area I have been aware of for about the last six months and consistently been thinking about how we could be of help. I discovered this need after the publishing deadline for our mission brochure, but am certainly adding it to the places we want to serve. Listen to what was said of this destination during this phone call:
- “It’s not uncommon to see a 12 year old girl with all of her adult teeth already rotted out.”
- “Just last week one of the 14 year olds we work with told us she is pregnant, I wish this wasn’t just accepted as ‘normal’ here.”
- “We have women who walk to the store with completely unkempt hair, because their moms never ran a brush through their hair, they don’t know any different.”
When I asked about possibly bringing in a group or two they said:
- “We’d want you to work with the children and youth the most; we’d have to put up flyers weeks in advance, you’d have to go door to door, because nobody has Internet… but you’d get a ton of youth to show up, they have nothing going on.”
- “Some of these kids have NEVER been outside of this community.”
- “You’d be such a blessing to this community, thanks for even considering this.”
To me it almost sounds like an underdeveloped, typically labeled “Third World” country. But it’s not. It’s a rural suburb (if there is such a thing) outside a major US city in the sun-drenched south… very close to what others have called “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
Social Justice causes will always exist; but I’d like to see a team raised up to meet both the physical needs in this community (stuff as simple as painting, assembling park equipment, repairing hurricane damaged trailers, etc.) but then extend that aid by providing education, hope and have all of it done with the Gospel in mind!
This year’s Youthmark training is entitled Anywhere for a reason, I truly believe God is calling us to all places. No matter where we are we’re to be a missionary showing grace and compassion and always being ready to share why! It’s because we are recipients of that very same grace, compassion and the Gospel!
I’d love for you to spread the word about these opportunities and the others. Ultimately we want participants trained to be missionaries ANYWHERE! It’s all about Mission51, but let’s do the “other one” (the one week mission) really well too. Perhaps your “other one” this year would be to Florida? That would be pretty Socially Just of you! Contact us at 800.455.1450 and find out the details.