Written by Dan LaValla
Wednesday, 14 August 2013 00:00
Last month, I had the privilege of serving on a short-term mission team of 28 men and women and high school youth who traveled to Kodiak, Alaska where we served the Kodiak Baptist Mission (KBM) for youth and families. On the first day, we divided up into five teams according to the giftedness and the work each person wanted to take on. I was on a team of six that took on the roofing and repairs of a three-story house and consisted of a professional roofer/general contractor, KBM’s executive director and maintenance director and my two sons (ages 14 and 17).
This was the closest I have ever come to experiencing the dynamics described in 2 Cor. 8:7-15: specifically, a unity in Christ characterized by a shared equality that was based on mutual respect and humility regardless of one another’s abilities and assigned responsibilities.
Reflecting on the trip upon our return home, I realized the conditions for experiencing the dynamics of 2 Cor. 8:7-15 were ideal for several reasons. First, all six members of our team put aside their selfish motivations for a unified goal to serve Kodiak Baptist Mission to the fullest of our abilities in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, our team’s abundance of time and effort were providing the skills and resources that Kodiak Baptist Mission lacked to make the repairs on their own.
Third, the project was too immense to accomplish for a team our size under normal circumstances, requiring several hours of overtime for eight consecutive days, through the final workday of our mission trip to complete the project.
Finally, we had the privilege of experiencing daily encouragement from our gracious Lord by witnessing miraculous answers to the prayers of many that helped us overcome extenuating circumstances.
While our team worked with minimal interpersonal tensions and strong relationships formed for the hours we worked closely in a limited space, not all of the above lessons were realized in the midst of the project or without challenges. As the coordinator of the mission trip, I admit that I felt our team was called to accept the roofing project, but I accepted with some fears and concerns about whether or not we would complete the project without injuries.
First, the size and conditions of the roof and house were extremely difficult; the executive director later informed us later in the week, several teams over the past two years declined the job for the number of difficulties involved.
Second, Kodiak’s climate is a temperate rain forest where it is common to rain three to four days per week and any bit of rain would have slowed us down enough to prevent us from finishing. Our church prayed for 40 days leading up to and throughout the trip and each team member recruited a minimum of ten additional prayer partners all of whom were praying for suitable weather to complete our assignments. For our entire trip, the weather was dry, a stretch the native islanders had never observed. The successful completion of the project was obviously the result of willingness to accept a calling with faith and not just on assessing our human capacity, selfless commitment to serve God and His mission, answered prayer, and our team working with mutual respect and humility towards one another.
Dan LaValla is Director of Library Services and Development Associate at Biblical. He is Chair of the Endowment Committee for the American Theological Library Association and is very active in his church and community, coaching youth baseball and football and has served on several community boards. See also http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/daniel-lavalla