Throughout my life, I’ve had some incredible opportunities to be blessed and to bless others. Truthfully, I get way more satisfaction in being a blessing to others. I’m not just writing this because it seems like the right answer of two choices. We are called to have a servant’s heart. Anyone who has served from a pure heart knows what I’m talking about.
Those who bless others will be abundantly blessed themselves;
those who help others are helped.
Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)
As I write this*, I am traveling solo in the Dominican Republic building relationships and seeking worthwhile organizations to partner with for service projects with the college students participating in the Southwestern Advantage summer sales and leadership program. It’s 1:00 am. I usually have a travel partner. (Hi Tabitha Taylor, if you are reading this!). We seek out people and places where Christ leads us so the students can make the biggest impact. We want to help those that need the most help. They are generally not helpless, they just need a helping hand. But this time… this time, it’s different.
Being alone with my thoughts is quite a different range of emotions for me. There’s no one with whom to process what I’ve seen. There’s no one to share an experience of both heartache and resiliency, of poverty and happiness, of pain and pride. I’m alone with my thoughts. I’m alone in my prayers. I miss my family. I wish my wife and daughters were with me to further expose them to the good, bad, and ugly this world consists of – and how there is always a light that shines through the darkness.
As I drift to sleep each night, I try to keep those I meet in my prayers – whether I know their names or not, I see their faces. With some, I recall their smile. With others, I recall their anguish. Some images haunt me, while others bring a tear of joy. From the innocent and tragic little victims found in imprisoning orphanages, victims of mutilation, sex trafficking, extreme poverty and hunger to the heroes of their community who start schools, save lives by teaching a vocation, provide medicine, dig wells, and start Bible groups – each image has a place in my memory and heart. Each face has a story. Each one has a past. Each one has a future. No matter the nation I find myself, the human condition is the same – the haves, the have-nots, and the never-will-haves. I often reflect on the dichotomy between the scenes played out before my very eyes.
- The time when school children stole black paint from a work project to paint their shoes so they looked new
- The time orphans had been locked behind bars most of their lives; a baby was locked and housed in a closet who could not crawl and was not used to the light
- The time when an orphanage I wanted to visit was closed down because they had been harvesting organs
But then, they are balanced by this:
- The time a toddler ran up to me and grabbed my leg asking in Spanish if I was there to take him home (melted-heart moment)
- The time I carried an injured little girl up a mountainside to her village in Africa and the villagers said “God bless you” – the only English they probably knew (seems to be a universal language)
- The three times God put people in our paths years before we would be back to be able to help them and their cause by showing his masterful plan three, three, and six years in advance of the open opportunity
Having been fortunate enough to travel with work and participate and lead in missions, I’m never let down by the lessons of compassion God teaches me through the experiences I encounter and the people I meet. I’ve had people tell me before they don’t buy into missions or service projects because they are “temporary relief” or “false hope.” Well, I’m not buying what they are selling. I know for a fact the people who receive help, receive hope. It’s real easy: the outcome of your mission is determined by the scope of your project and the intentions of your heart.
Yet again, I am reminded why God puts me in the places where I find myself. He will do that for you, too! It may not be International missions, but it may be an elderly neighbor, a widowed coworker, a single mom, a sick relative, or a local group you find delight in helping. Blessing others really should be a daily practice, not a random or singular occurrence.
On this particular journey in the DR, I was led to a partial verse that has echoed in my head from Malachi 2:10. I believe I have found my inspirational self-talk in the form of two questions with obvious answers to me – whether in a remote village, destitute barrio, or down the street from my house.
Are we not all children of the same Father?
Are we not all created by the same God?
Yes! With this being so, should we not show mercy in the face of misery? Should we not bring peace to the poor? Should we not give bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty? Should we not show up where we are called to be? Should we not just show? Should we not be a blessing to others?
As I read a book I brought, Mark Batterson says it best in Primal:
“Don’t let what you cannot do keep you from doing what you can.”
Words to live by. And that, I shall do.
Trey Campbell, email@example.com
*Posted after I returned with access to wifi.