We had been looking forward to this week ever since the official “Launch” of our school’s partnership in September. It was groundbreaking for us – our first team on the ground at Tabitha, which is our school’s partner community in Guatemala City. We had spent six months planning and preparing our team with cultural and language studies, fundraising, travel arrangements, and diving into the deep complexities of poverty. We wrestled with short-term missions and the motivations behind it, and explored the differences between one-week trips vs the long-term partnership we had entered into. We tried to redefine our American short-term missions mindset and expectations by placing the focus simply on “being” and not “doing.” We all seemingly understood that we weren’t going to build or fix things. There would be nothing to come back and tangibly show that we accomplished. Instead, we were going to visit our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ – to love, fellowship with, and learn from them.
Now we were finally on the ground and sitting down to catch our breath after a beautiful, crazy, hectic, amazing first day at Tabitha. The team was laughing and sharing stories about the smiles, the beautiful kids, and the fun of the day. It was all very typical of a “missions trip” debrief.
Then one student peeled back the layers and vulnerably went deeper, expressing what I think many were feeling deep down: “Today was a lot of fun, but I am not sure why I am here. I realized that they didn’t really NEED me for anything today.” Things got a little quieter and I saw the heads nodding as others joined in agreement.
As a leader, my mind started going back through all the discussions of the last six months, and I saw this as the open door for me to once again explain the complexities of poverty or the concept of development vs. dependence in the majority world. This was my chance to really hit it home. What had sounded great in theory was now colliding with these students’ realities. I was about to jump in and bring it home, but instead, before I could speak, one of our high school students jumped in and beautifully shared:
“You know, isn’t that the way it is with Jesus. He doesn’t really need us, but he wants us and invites us to just be with Him”
I sat back and realized the simplicity and beauty of her words. I realized that while missions, development, partnership, and community can all be intricate and complex, there was a surprisingly simple beauty behind it as well. Our partnership with Tabitha, and our opportunity to join with them is simply a picture of the body of Christ and the love He has for His Church. While yes, we were learning about missions and poverty and partnership, more importantly we were being invited to join in with Jesus and what he is doing at Tabitha. He doesn’t need me, but he wants me and is inviting me to have a part as He is ushering in His kingdom to this broken world. It was simple and beautiful, and I needed one of my high school students to remind me of that.
To learn more about how schools can make a global impact through Children’s HopeChest, watch our video featuring today’s author and principal of The University School, Ryan Hewitt.
“The last visit of The University School had a great impact on every child who receives the support of the community. There were children who had the chance to meet their sponsors, which helped them to see that there is a real person who is spending of his or her life. Children now give even more value to the letters they receive, since they see that this is not a fairy tale. The team’s visit also helped the kids to realize the love and passion that The University School feels for each one of the them. And the visit was also very helpful, for they had a sense of belonging and the opportunity to share and to coexist with The University School.” – Carol, Director of Tabitha CarePoint