The following grew out of an interview I did for “Water of Life”, the newsletter for Living Waters for the World.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” (Mark Twain)
Twain wrote that travel is a great eraser of prejudice and self-elevation. I guess that depends on how you travel. It can be difficult to find a transformative climate when you’re carefully shuttled from one manicured, touristy vista to another, and shuffled quickly past brightly painted walls masking the underbelly – and yet the foundation – of the neighborhoods and working conditions of an area’s indigenous people. One key to avoiding such a wasted trip is mission.
I’m not talking about delivering crates of used clothing and shoes, or offloading expensive equipment, or drive-by VBS with enough glitz to elicit oohs and ahhs even from malnourished participants. I’m talking about mission done WITH (not TO or FOR), in partnership, with all participants’ resources and voices recognized and respected, and full ownership claimed.
If you can find a way to do this, whether it’s in your back yard or across the globe, whether it transcends languages, cultures, social structures, or all of the above, you will no longer be able to see the world through the fearful binoculars of “other”, and you will no longer understand yourself the same. When you sense the life of others, your heart rends, even if only microscopically.
It’s like you’ve traded pieces of one another’s hearts; and when you do that, love cannot be unseen, mercy unheard, justice unfelt, forgiveness unsmelled, grace untasted. Neither your world nor the world will ever be the same again. Thanks be to God!
© 2016 Todd Jenkins