Not Your Typical Summer Mission Trip
Typically, a summer mission trip means packing up, traveling to some location away from home, and spending the week painting, roofing, repairing, or some other light-construction-type work for others. We spend the week working hard and making noticeable changes. Then, we come home feeling really good about ourselves, the work we did, and all the “before-and-after” photos we can share.
This summer, we did something different. We spent our week immersed in the community of Tucker, GA with EIRO—a ministry that works to build partnerships in the communities of Tucker and Clarkston, GA.
We spent our time listening and asking questions about different ministries in the Atlanta area. We talked with refugees who now call Georgia home and ate the food they prepared. We played with children who speak multiple languages. We learned about the time and energy it takes to start and sustain a ministry of partnership within a community. We sat in living rooms and listened about race relations in a historically black neighborhood. We learned that listening and building relationships and being good neighbors are vital to building the kingdom of God.
We didn’t paint. We didn’t swing a hammer. We don’t have any before-and-after pictures to share.
Even though we were only immersed for a week, we were able to learn about living in community from folks actually living in the community. We had conversations about what it meant to be the stranger welcomed by Jesus. We were the strangers who were welcomed into homes. We were ministered to instead of the other way around.
We built relationships that changed the way we think and the way we approach others.
We came away from our Immersion Experience with more questions than answers—and that is a good thing! Ministry and Missions and Serving are not always easy. It takes time to build relationships and trust. Our week with EIRO helped teach us about the process of intentionality and being Jesus to each other. The challenge we came home with is what can we do as we listen to our neighbors and seek ways to serve with them as we build the kingdom of God together.
Our Immersion Experience with EIRO taught us a lot about others, but more importantly, we learned about ourselves and what it means to be a good neighbor in the name of Christ.
~Rev. David Woody, Providence Baptist Church, Charleston, SC