The Valley of Trouble=A Door of Hope?

Short-term missions teams often serve in places facing difficulty. Rather than pity, I approach places with optimism and hope. Why?

In Joshua 7, after Achan sins against God, he (guilty) and his family (some guilty, others likely not guilty) died and were buried in the Valley of Achor, which means, Valley of Trouble.

How does God connect with people facing the Valley of Trouble…whether through their own choices, or the choices of others?

We see the Valley of Achor referenced again Hosea 2:14-15, when God says of the unfaithful wife, Gomer, “I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. I will make the Valley of Achor (Trouble) a door of hope.”

He leads her into the desert to speak tenderly to her! I love His tender voice in the midst of deserts I face.

Door of HopeGod makes the Valley of Trouble a Door of Hope! He’s somehow able to connect with people in their worst moments to show them hope.

Later in the chapter (Hosea 2:19), the writer speaks of Him connecting with Gomer through “righteousness, justice, kindness, faithfulness and compassion.”

God speaks to people with tenderness and shows them compassion. He can make the biggest trouble, a door of hope. Whether it’s a personal trial or an earthquake that changes the future of your country, God sees trouble and shares hope.

As you serve through short-term missions, remember the compassion He shows. As He writes the story, He somehow uses people like us to communicate His compassion. It’s also important to remember that He shows the same compassion to us. In my deepest valley, He showered me with His love. Remember that His mission and His love, and the encouraging words we’ll share are true for us as well.

God’s People Should Get Out More: Some Thoughts on Scattering

The rebellion at the Tower of Babel? They refused to scatter.

I love seeing things from an expanded perspective, and that’s what happened as I read from The Traveling Team (great people, great resources).

In Genesis 1, after God created Earth and then man in His own image, He desires that man flourish and grow in numbers, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). After the flood, God commands Noah and His sons saying,  “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). When His creation fills the earth, He’ll live in relationship with people throughout the world.

Papua New Guinea...what some may consider the ends of the earth.

Papua New Guinea…what some may consider the ends of the earth.

Rather than obeying, people rebelled. Shortly after the command to Noah and his sons, people gathered at Babel and sought to build a tower that reaches the Heaven. If you’re familiar with the story, you’ll know that God gets angry and scatters them around the world, confusing their languages. From your understanding of the story, what was the sin committed by the people of Babel?

Arrogance.

They didn’t scatter.

The people acted in arrogance, believing they could achieve the same status as God. They also acted in rebellion. In Genesis 11:4, they state one of their reasons for building the tower, “…otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” They wanted to stay together where they were rather than obeying God’s command to fill the earth. They did not want to scatter their resources or their lives. God did not live in relationship with people throughout His creation, because people refused to go.

The story isn’t a command to do a short-term missions trip, or even to devote our careers to cross-cultural ministry. However, I believe it’s a great reminder that God doesn’t want us to keep resources for ourself, or to insist on staying put. Whether through praying, giving, or going, may we scatter throughout the earth, and may people everywhere worship Him.

Do people still refuse to go where God wants them to go today?

The Image That Changed the World

All people are created in God's Image, with unique opportunities and responsibility

All people are created in God’s Image, with unique opportunities and responsibility

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over…all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.

 

We’re created in His image. We can:

-Create
-Relate with God
-Work
-Thrive

Those we serve on Short-Term Missions (STM’s) are also created in His image. They can:

-Create
-Relate with God
-Work
-Thrive

At that church in a the very hot developing world town named after a “Frying Pan,” our team cleared the ground, prepared the soil and planted seeds (by ourselves) we would never see grow. We robbed the harvesters of an opportunity to take ownership in the garden they at least had requested. They had worked with us on other projects, but not their garden.

I love people and while on STM’s have often said with kindness, “Oh no! Let me do this for you!” Opening doors for elders is fine, but I should let people plant gardens on their property, share stories from their lives at the community center or work with the team to clean a neighborhood.

Smiles and love without allowing opportunity to create, relate to God, work and thrive rob people of dignity and purpose. It robs me of impact.

What does this mean for STM? Often, the best action I can take is to “impolitely” allow others to do work God created them to do, while serving with them as a partner, knowing they’re created for such things.

Who has given you opportunity? What has it meant to you?