Mission is About Building Relationships
Today, I welcome guest blogger Beth Crow. Beth is the Youth Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. I’ve known Beth for many years through church-wide, provincial and diocesan ministry gatherings. I highly respect her ministry and her insights and I couldn’t be more pleased to share this post with you.
Mission is About Relationships
I have been organizing youth mission trips for years: coordinating Vacation Bible School (VBS) for inner city children in Washington DC, painting houses on the Wind River Reservation, digging trenches for new homes in Costa Rica, and cleaning marsh areas of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. During all of these trips I have witnessed incredible strength and maturity in the lives of the young people traveling with me.
But it was not until the summer of 2007 in Bay Saint Lewis with 150 youth from Province IV did I begin to truly understand the greatest gift any of us can give.
As photographer for the week, I came to a group of youth pulling weeds at Malcolm’s home, his roof covered with a blue tarp and much of the siding torn away. The youth asked Malcolm to tell the story about how his neighbors had planned to end their lives after seeing the devastation from Katrina. With tears rolling down his face, Malcolm said to us, “The idea of how valuable you are to us I think is quite simple: you give us hope.”
This hope Malcolm experienced with the youth from Province IV came out of genuine relationships built through sharing work, laughter, tears, stories, and most importantly love with one another. Yes, the work done during these mission experiences is important and much appreciated. However, it’s the relationships developed during these experiences that last a life time.
Blythe Riggan, a youth from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, illustrates this type of exchange well in her article, Botswana Exchange: A Walk Beside.
My hope is that through mission we build these ongoing relationships across the vastness and diversity of our church and that through these relationships we transform ourselves, our communities, and our world.