Joel Morien and I, along with our adult and college chaperones, will be leading more than 30 High Schoolers on a mission trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota this next week. There will be so many lessons to learn – lessons about ourselves, about the people we came with, about the people with whom we will serve among the Lakota Sioux. We’ll learn about a different culture, about living with poverty, about struggling to find an identity in a nation that wants us to conform. Please pray for us in this time away.
I’ve been privileged to lead and serve on numerous mission trips and, without exception, they all remind me why I’m a Christian. It’s in serving among the poor that we truly encounter Christ. Those words Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel about serving Jesus when we serve those in need and denying Jesus when we refuse to meet the needs of our neighbors… they have been proven to me again and again. Without face to face encounter with those in need, our faith can feel an empty exercise in self-absorption. When expressed in service, our faith gives voice to our Jesus encounters, it prayerfully interprets our experience of the Spirit, and gives praise to the God who cares for the poor, even for those of us who are rich in things but poor in soul.
There was a poem found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta. It’s widely assumed that the poem was written by Mother Teresa herself. There words represent the kinds of lessons learned in Christ’s service:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides