It’s been a few months since we took our mission trip to Puerto Rico, but every day I see the wristband on the hutch of my desk that the church we served in Barranquitas gave to each of us. It’s a nice reminder of the trip, with a simple message.
It says “Yo amo servir.” Translation: “I love to serve.”
There were certainly some language barriers in our time there, some of which created some awkward but comical situations, but there was one thing that translated well across the cultures, and that was serving one another in the name of Jesus. And that was pretty much the lesson most of us brought back from Puerto Rico, that to serve others is a blessing in and of itself.
That’s why I love to hear stories from the mission field, because it’s always encouraging to hear how God uses ordinary people who are willing to make themselves available to Him. But sometimes, I also enjoy the funny stories that come from those awkward situations where people who are trying to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural ministry to serve the Lord.
Like, the story about the missionary recruit who went to Venezuela for the first time, struggling with the language. He visited one of the local churches and sat in the front row. So as not to make a fool of himself, he decided to pick someone out of the crowd to imitate. He decides to follow the man sitting next to him in the front pew. As they sang, the man clapped his hands, so the missionary recruit clapped too. When the man stood to pray, the missionary recruit stood up too. When the man sat down, the missionary sat down.
Later in the service, the man next to him stood up again, so the missionary stood up too. Suddenly a hush fell over the entire congregation. A few people gasped. Some of the children began to giggle. The missionary looked around and saw that no one else was standing, so he sat down.
After the service ends, the new missionary greeted the pastor. “I take it you don’t speak Spanish,” the preacher said. The missionary replied, “No, not very good yet. Is it that obvious?”
“Well, yes,” the preacher said. “I announced that the Acosta family had a newborn baby boy, and I asked the proud father to please stand up.” Oops!
We don’t have to go to the mission field to get into that kind of trouble every now and then, when we find ourselves following the crowd. It’s so easy just to go along with those around us, instead of making our own way. Or better yet, following the Lord’s way. As Christ-followers, we need to be reminded sometimes that Jesus is our model, the example we are to follow to live out our faith. And we’ll never go wrong if we choose to imitate Him in the way we live our lives.
Think about that this week. How will your life be different if your actions and your attitudes truly reflect those of the Savior whom you claim to serve? Are you more like the world you’ve been called out of, or the Lord who has called you to follow Him?
I’m praying for you this week, that your faith will be genuine and that your walk with God will be evident to all those around you. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.