“We love because he first loved us.”
(1John 4:19 ESV)
Our group of 12 is safely home from Alaska. And I think a good experience was had by all. I believe that we were a blessing to the mission in Alaska, to the missionaries, as well as to the people served by the mission.
The women in our team served primarily at “The Net.” This is a place where residents, cannery workers, and fishermen can stop in for a free cup of coffee, a cookie, and to use the internet. Our volunteers are also able to interact with the visitors and to share with them the hope we have in Christ.
The men engaged in several work projects. Much of our work took place at the South Naknek church where two entryways were insulated and finished. Damaged drywall and a ceiling that was falling in were repaired. And the entire interior of the church was painted. The parsonage deck in South Naknek was also repaired, scraped, power-washed, and mostly painted (we were rained out and unable to complete the last bit of this work). We also replaced two doors at the radio station and installed a vent which will help to cool the transmitter room.
In addition, I was able to give a break to the pastor by preaching at two services. And several of our men and women also gave the Net a good cleaning, shampooing the carpets and the couch.
However, I believe that the greater blessing on a trip such as this is received by the team itself. It often serves to encourage us and wake us up when it comes to outreach and serving. And this is then brought back to the sending church.
What I mean is this: When we go on a mission trip, we pay to work. Normally, when we work, we expect to get paid for our efforts. But, on a mission trip, we pay our way or raise support that we might freely give of ourselves.
Because of this, we make the most of our time. We want to complete as many projects as possible for those we’re serving. We want to touch as many lives as possible with the message of the gospel. After all, that’s what we came to do.
We’re reminded, then, that this is also what we’re to be doing at home. We’re called to serve the body of Christ. We’re called to love those who are perishing. We’re called to reach out with the message of the gospel. And we’re to do this freely, expecting nothing in return. We’re to love because Christ first loved us.
I firmly believe that each member of our team has returned with this blessing. And I pray that it will be an encouragement to us to serve in the same way at home. I pray that our service will be given not out of obligation or a desire for return, but because of our faith in Christ and our love for those around us.