its no secret that the wealthy, comfortable christianity of the developed western world frustrates me. anyone who knows me, knows that has been a passion of mine for quite a while. we talk about it around the fire when mission teams visit. anytime i have opportunities to preach, my messages usually involve this theme. but living in the mountains of guatemala, my rants are usually relegated to my family (who listen so patiently), and to my journal...
anyway- my wife kerrie had a dream the other day that definitely got us thinking. all she could remember was a 20 second "blip". she said it was really strange.
in her dream, she was in the US during our upcoming trip with the rhinos, watching one of their games. a friend sensed something was on her mind, and asked her whats up. kerrie said, "i don't really know how to say it. i'm struggling with my disgust of american culture, and i just don't know how to even reconcile it." the friend responded, "then why did you bring the boys from the academy here?"
ouch! kerrie almost felt bad even telling me about it!
do you believe God sometimes speaks to us in dreams? i do...
the dream forced us to look a little deeper into the positives and negatives of a trip such as this. after having done one last year, we already know that some of the benefits for our boys were obvious:
1. "seeing the world" a little bit can be such a positive thing for anyone who grows up isolated, especially in poverty. it can open their eyes, minds, and hearts. it truly helps when the boys see something other than the poverty, abuse, addictions, and closed-mindedness of their little village.
2. these trips load the boys up with confidence. we've seen it happen, and i always seem to struggle to put it into words. one thing i know is that the boys need more self-confidence in order to put into practice (in their village), the things they learn in the academy. going on a big trip, seeing other parts of the world - even just seeing a big city, being on an airplane, and learning how to handle yourselves in different settings and events - brings a certain confidence back home. again, its hard to explain, but all of us here see it and feel it.
3. traveling to the states is another opportunity to see friends and family that support us. some of which have visited guatemala, but many of which have not. that aspect of the trip is always special and helps solidifies lasting relationships.
but... there are clearly downsides to these trips as well. with nothing but great intentions, the american experience showers the boys with excess. lovingly and generously, the boys are over-entertained, over-fed, and over exposed. and this is as much my fault as anyone... its difficult to not want the boys to see and experience everything!
but after returning home from last year's trip, we noticed a few things that needed attention.
1. the boys came home with an assumption that good christians in america are blessed financially. the size/number of homes, cars, TVs, and _______ (fill in the blank) literally blew them away, and they naturally associated it all with "blessing from God."
2. they came home thinking they needed nicer stuff for themselves. some got their hands on smart phones and began buying internet minutes so they could look at facebook. others used what little money they have for food and school to buy cool clothes, shoes, or hats. eventually, them and their families began to feel the pinch from those decisions.
3. after returning home, we struggled deeply with a new sense of "entitlement" that crept into daily life here at the academy. all of a sudden, it seemed like the training-table food wasn't good enough, facilities to shower every day were no big deal, and team-issued cleats, uniforms, balls, etc, weren't very special anymore.
little by little, we began coaching them back to reality and did our best to explain and teach on each of the mentioned topics. on the bright side, we had several months of great devotions! we were able to teach what the bible says about the prosperity gospel, how sin affects all cultures, and what genuine thankfulness looks like.
ALL THAT BEING SAID, I BELIEVE GOD HAD SPECIFIC PURPOSE IN KERRIE'S 20 SECOND DREAM.
that purpose, we believe, was to get our attention before we take any more big trips. he wants us to focus on the details more carefully. he's telling us to think things through, be wise and strategic regarding the nuances i've mentioned above.
last year's trip was amazing and i have no regrets at all! but i thank
God for the constant fountain of wisdom that he is, and for the way he walks with us and teaches us as we live, learn, and grow.
if we are issued visas for this year's US trip, it will no doubt be much more simple - attempting to accomplish the 3 positives above, with much more sensitivity towards the 3 negatives.