Jeff with kid

Recently, a group from the church I serve went to Porch de Salomon for the purpose of working together for the people in and around Panajachel. This is the first of this kind of trip I have taken. Naturally, I went into this trip with all kinds of assumptions and expectations.
One moment especially memorable happened while our team assisted a family by building them a home. One of our team members, a fifteen-year-old young lady, enjoyed playing with the children of the family we were assisting. She was looking at one child, while another child sat on her lap. The child sitting on her lap spontaneously reached up and kissed her on her cheek. The sight of this kind of love and connection brought tears to my eyes. It was a reminder to me of the importance of leaving my comfort zone to see that relationships can take place in spite of the challenges of cultural barriers.

Katie with girl
Another important moment happened through a conversation with two gentlemen on the terrace of Porch de Salomon. We discussed the activities of the week and the different approach taken by the ministry of the Porch. I would define the Porch’s approach as highly relational. While the model of ministry can be a little messy because of it’s relational nature, it reminds me of our Lord’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a, NIV). I am also reminded of our Lord’s example as He went from town to town, walking the countryside with the intention of meeting needs through loving service. Christ was so focused on reaching those in need, it was said, “Here is glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11: 19b, NIV). This missional approach to living out the faith we profess may be messy, but, as I found out this last week, it is exactly what our Lord lived and called us to live as His followers.

Jeff shoveling
As our team heads back to Guatemala City so we can fly back to the states, my head and heart are spinning from all I saw God do through a different approach to missions and ministry. I suspect God is at work to change how I live as a man, a husband, a father and a pastor. I will be forever unsatisfied with living out the faith I have in Christ in any other way than loving people where they are, walking with them and meeting their needs. If that means it’s messy, then so be it. I am sure that is the life Jesus has called us to.

olive branch team