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Mission Trip Reflection

Written by Matt Wilson

Recently, I had the opportunity to join a Waypoint mission trip. I am so grateful to be part of a church that organizes mission trips year round for all ages. Even more, I was encouraged to see so many Waypoint members invested in what we were doing and actively praying for us. Thank you to everyone who supported us and prayed for us on this incredible opportunity to serve the people of the Dominican Republic. 

Much of Santo Domingo was familiar to a typical American city with access to shops, groceries, and the steady hum of traffic. Of course, the lack of drinkable water, the inability to flush toilet paper, and the constant reminder I should have paid more attention in Spanish class were all jarring evidence that we were indeed far from home. There were a few differences that we all noticed as the trip went on. First, the gracious hospitality that was shown to us foreigners, as it seemed ingrained in each person to be patient and understanding (even in the worst traffic I’ve ever seen). We were also struck by their contagious commitment to their community. As we walked the barrios of Santo Domingo, we saw people chatting with their neighbors, borrowing, laughing, playing, and taking care of each other. In seeing this, it was impossible to avoid thinking of what Kingdom impact we could have at home if we took even just a small sample of this with us. What if I did this at home?

About an hour outside the city, we pulled up to the Compassion Center in La Cienega. As stray dogs scurried by and locals stared, we unloaded the van and entered a church filled with children. For many of these kids, the Compassion Center is their primary (or only) source of food, stability, education, or biblical teaching. Because of the lacking resources in La Cienega, the public school system is forced to reject children when they run out of space. These children have nowhere else to go for school except here. 

After we sang, danced, and prayed with the kids, we were given a tour of the facility and introduced to the staff and teachers. We saw a nursery for malnourished babies, classrooms packed with kids, play rooms where I was taught how to play dominoes (and I remain undefeated), a small kitchen for meal prep, and a play space on the roof with about fifty little kids, all with smiling faces. They could not wait to give us a high five, show us their cartwheel, or get any ounce of affection that they could from us strange visitors. After giving them each a snack and a hug, it was time to leave but all of us asked if we could stay longer. The feeling that we had to show these kids they were loved was overwhelming, and I had to understand more about this ministry.

I spoke with our host, Pastor Luis, who explained a bit more about how God provided this ministry to the community who desperately needed it. A missions team, much like ours, came to serve and felt led by the Spirit to give more and God provided the resources to build the Compassion Center. Volunteers came to build what would become a beacon of God's love to their community. After it was built, one question remained: who would operate it? This is when I learned that the teachers, cooks, and staff are all members of the church that Pastor Luis leads. The miracle I was witnessing was the local church, the body of Christ, there in La Cienega, united to answer the call of God. I realized that if this body of believers did not answer God’s call, there might not be a Compassion Center. This is also when I learned that many of the teachers are volunteers, who do this work without knowing if they will be paid at all. I was blown away and confronted with that aching question again: What if I did this at home?

Acts 2-4 describes the early church as a people who “were of one heart and soul” (4:32), who were “devoted to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship” (2:42), who had “all things in common” (2:44; 4:32), and were united in their cause to share Christ to their community. Acts 4:34 says, “There was not a needy person among them.” They sold their possessions and pulled those resources together and distributed the proceeds to anyone who was in need (4:34-35). I can’t help but wonder… What if I did this at home?

God might not be calling me to sell everything I own. He might not be calling me to quit my job and volunteer. But, I do know that he has called me to look not only to my own interests but to the interests of others (Phil 2:4); that I must be the salt of the earth and a light to the world (Matt. 5:13-14). God sent me over 1,300 miles away to learn this lesson and to remind me of this calling. I praise God for the deep commitment I see from Waypoint to serve our community. I pray that we will all be continually challenged to act on God’s calling and make Christ’s name known right here at home.

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