Greetings! Yesterday I discussed the prominence of our Sender, the Importance of the adventure of life and the Treasure we are seeking on our quests in Missions work. Today we look at building a Team and the Battles that come our way.
Now that we know our goal (filling needs in the people we meet), we need a Team.
I love Marvel Avengers Alliance on Facebook because you get to put together your own team and the game play is excellent. Want all Avengers? You can do it. You want all X-Men? You can do it. Want both? Why not! Granted, you will do better with a mixture because you need different skill sets for different occasions, but you can build your team to your liking. This is sometimes the most fun part of the quest. Joining in an adventure and more with others who share your goals is an amazing feeling. Every team will be different.
My time with YWAM was very diverse. Our team consisted of Americans, Dutch, Slovaks, Czechs, and we cooperated and learned from people from around the world including South Africa, Canada, South Korea, Egypt, and host of other places. And we all came from different backgrounds theologically, although we all profess Christ as Savior. We had a mix of Catholic, Charismatic, Evangelical Christians serving together. All we had to do was focus on Jesus and overlook those labels.
I was so nervous about my first trip to China because I was the only guy with 3 girls and I met them at the airport for the first time. We joined with a Chinese team that was mostly women and I was sharing an apartment with 3 girls I had only met days earlier. Fortunately, we all connected as a team really well. I refer to these 3 girls as my China sisters.
If you saw the Avengers movie, you remember the moment in the lab when they were arguing. Unity is not an easy thing. It takes work. Sometimes I disagreed with teammates about things. Normally it was stuff we could overlook. I have not always done a good job of overlooking my preferences for the better of the team. We all need to learn to cooperate despite differences.
Think about Avenger’s Alliance. You build teams based on what you are facing. Tacticians if you are facing Blasters, Brawlers if you are facing Scrappers, and so on. And sometimes you need to choose to heal one character because you need their abilities rather than healing another character. Real life can be like that. Sometimes you have to let your needs fall by the side for the group. Remember, you are part of something greater, not on your own or in control. Even the person we call the team leader is not in control. That role belongs to the Holy Spirit.
So are you willing to overlook your preferences for the team?
Overlooking your own desires is important because of the BATTLES.
“Life is pain.” — Westley as the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride.
Stories about difficulty in missions are everywhere. Every trip has its share of difficulties.
Early on in our time in Ireland someone said, “There is a lot of darkness in Downpatrick. Keep your eyes open and you’ll see it.” We did see it. Our time connecting with the kids had been difficult because it was hard to keep things controlled. We felt like we were not respected by them and we felt like it was going terrible. So, we started praying. We had a 30 minute drive between ministry site and the place we were staying at, so we would pray on the way there. Then after a few days of that we started taking turns being in a room upstairs praying. One day, one of our teammates who has a strong Irish heritage was speaking. She had been through many of the same issues these kids faced daily, including alcoholism and drugs. She did start to get through…but not without attempts at distracting us. The whole time she was sharing there were all sorts of noises coming from outside. People were constantly banging loudly on cars and other items. A local went to the entrance to deal with some distractions right at the door. It felt like we were under siege…but she was getting through to them.
That is not the end of the battle. It was soon after that when a camera was stolen and the person refused to return it. It was also that week that one of our students got followed home (might have been the same night). The kids that followed him, who had hung around the church but never came in for any activities, kicked his door in so hard his parents thought a bomb had gone off. Soon there was a riot going on with windows being broken. The police came in to stop it…by grabbing ANY kid they saw and beating them, even if the kids were just trying to get home. One of our older kids was simply walking through when he got grabbed and beaten by the police. Another of our kids jumped on the back of the policeman to help his friend. When we left town the police was looking for one and had arrested the other. These kids were simply trying to get home and had not been part of the riot. Another person I met years later confirmed that these events were common there. I hope they are not common anymore. But here was the thing that really upset us as a team: the host organization pulled out. They said, “Satan is mad we are here, so we are leaving.” They continued work in all the surrounding areas, but pulled out of that village. Right when these kids needed help the most. I have not continued my support of the organization because of this.
When you go on a mission you need to realize that the stakes are enormous. These stakes will also be left to the people you minister to long after you leave. And it will be a battle. Make no mistake about that. You are there to partner with people and to help out. You are not there to showboat or to be a tourist (but often times there will be fun opportunities while you are there, just keep it in perspective). You are there to serve and every decision you make needs to take into consideration that the locals have to live with it after you leave. So you need to be cooperatively helpful, not encouraging a drastic dependency on you or your team.
Remember Paul’s encouragement from Ephesians:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in all kinds of occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always be praying for all the saints.
Remember that you are on this quest on the behalf of God, not yourself. You will experience adventure, find treasure in the people you meet, build a unified team, sometimes in the midst of disagreements, and you will face battles. This will all come with calling and equipping of the Holy Spirit.