Saturday, February 29, 2020

Hosting Teams - why do we do it?

One of the aspects of life and ministry that our family loves is hosting teams. With our combined experience in youth ministry and our love of hospitality ministry, hosting teams/trips has just naturally become a part of our family DNA. We find it both life-giving for us and transformational to many who participate. Hosting teams is NOT something all missionaries enjoy - it is a lot of work, can be exhausting, takes time away from our work/ministry/family and can sometimes be really difficult to deal with team dynamics and expectations. Over almost 7 years of hosting, we've had all really positive team experiences and have truly enjoyed every single team we've had come! 

We recognize that travel and living overseas is a privilege and not everyone has the opportunity, means or desire to live abroad or even to do much travel.  However, for those who can and want a taste of another culture, another way of life, another way of expressing faith, a way of encouraging missionaries, a way to broaden their worldview - we absolutely love being a part of that journey. 
GRCHS Trip to Tanzania in 2015- visiting a Hindu Temple. 

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It

We host teams for many reasons: 

1. To transform peoples ideas of what missions is and what missionaries do. Missions is SO much more than translating the Bible while living in a hut and living on faith for your next meal. It can be that. It is that for some people. It's not only that. Missions can look like running a business, training and employing marginalized people in a city. It can look like farming. It can look like being a missionary educator at a really nice international school. It can look like running a business in a developed country in order to build relationships in that secular community. It can look like running a bakery. It can look like training pastors. It can look like so many things. 

When we host groups, we introduce them to different missionaries who are doing all kinds of things in and around Kigali and hope to break down the ideas of what missions is "supposed to" look like and what missionaries are "supposed to do" or how they are "supposed to live". This education begins almost immediately as people enter our huge, nice house and often think, "Missionaries aren't supposed to live in a house this nice!" Hmm. Let's dig into why you believe that's true. 

The first two students to come to Tanzania on a trip with us, Selena and Jake, with our very dear friend, Lucy. 
2. To transform peoples ideas of how to 'help'. Have you heard of the book, "When Helping Hurts"?  If not, we highly recommend you get a copy, read and then re-read it. 

When I worked at Plymouth Heights CRC as a youth pastor, we took a trip to the Dominican Republic to work along side a missionary we supported there, also where our pastor had previously been a missionary. It was a 'vision' trip. We met with ministry leaders and heard about their struggles and joys. We saw development work happening. We prayed for people a lot. We really didn't "do" anything though. We didn't build a church or school or run a VBS for kids in a language we can't speak. Instead, we learned. That first trip there was transformational for how Marc and I view short term teams and how we run trips here in East Africa.

We often tell people that if they come on a trip with us, they won't "do" anything. Of course our schedule is actually packed with experiences, but you won't be "doing" as much as you will be learning. God is already at work here and we get to come along side what's already happening to encourage, to learn, to see, to hear and to pray. 

Trip to the DR back in either 2009 or 2011 - listening to a woman share about her ministry 
3. To transform people. We believe that God is the one that brings about transformation and change in people. We know that God can use whatever he would like to bring about that change. We have seen God use experiences like a 'vision trip' to transform people - their priorities, their beliefs, their spending, even their career paths. We wouldn't continue hosting trips if it was just a vacation. 

We have a team of 15 coming in May and another team of 11 coming in July/August. Will you join us in praying for lives to be transformed in little and big ways? Will you pray for us as we make all the arrangements and plans? Will you pray for open hearts to whatever God wants to teach us all during these trips? 

If you'd like to come on one of our trips, please let us know! We have hosted individuals, families and teams and are always open to the conversation.