The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.”
I write to you fresh from the 2020 PDA mission trip. This year we returned to Louisiana, but further west- deep into Cajun country. The Acadian National Park (the root word of Cajun) is in Lafayette close to where we stayed. Learning the local culture is just as enjoyable for many as the work. It is fascinating that the Cajuns are originally French colonists to Nova Scotia. After decades of skirmishes with the British colonists, they returned to France. After such a long separation from their home country, the group no longer identified as French. They missed their home in “the new world.” So, they packed up again to make a place for themselves in the new territory of Louisiana.
The Cajuns are just one of the people groups in the bayou. The place where we worked is a varied mix of cultures that makes gumbo sound plain. The locals believed that south central Louisiana boasts of the most diversity of any place on the planet. After a short visit to the eateries and places of worship you might tend to agree.
Just as the cultures are many and varied, so are the people who are there to help. We also worked with PDA but also several other groups- Catholic Charites supplied tool-trailers, AmeriServ gave support volunteers, and Rebuilding Together administrated the project. The question is, with this wild modge-podge of groups, workers, needs, cultures and people how did it work? How did we get anything done? How did we not relive the battles of the reformation every day? The answers are; It worked better than you would think! We a heck of got a lot done! AND, the last part is the most important, when the work starts the differences dissolve. We focus on doing the best we can for the people right in front of us.
This is why I enjoy these trips so much. You take people from radically different backgrounds, put a job in front of them and tools in their hands- presto you have cooperation. We cooperate to make a difference.
Our country spends way too much time fomenting fear and dwelling on differences. On the mission job site politics, theology and socioeconomic status is irrelevant. What matters is caring for the people God has put in your life. Galatians 5:6b, in the NIV reads, “The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.” If we spend our time building a faith that expresses itself through love, then we have done something very special; a faith that bridges divides, heals hurts and rebuilds homes.
I hope, for your own benefit, you will take a step out of your comfort zone and give mission work a try. We will have opportunities to serve here locally. There are homes and cars in the Bay area that can use repair. The planning for the trip next year has already begun. I hope you make the best of this opportunity for very real spiritual growth. The work is its own reward.
Grace and peace,