It’s all there in the name- “Work and Witness”: teams that come to do work and to witness to who Christ is. Some people question the pragmatics of spending so much money to fly to the other side of the world rather than just sending money…. but God’s economy is an “economy of grace” not of finance. He is not fretting about the bottom line or how He will provide – no His is the business of changed hearts.
The latest Work and Witness Team from Joplin District (parts of Kansas and Missouri in the US) is a great illustration. They have come to build a toilet and shower block – from a construction point of view a small building for sure, but as I always tell teams – the fact that a team of people would fly around the world at their own cost to do it adds special significance. It helps our staff realize that everything we have is not simply given to us – it comes as a result of sacrifice of everyday people. It should be cared for.
It was also a witness in another way. This was part of the NMI 100 year projects, which have been a big part of the Church of the Nazarene’s input into our Housing and Water Project that has resulted in exponential matching on the parts of our foreign aid partners. The Church will exceed our promised commitment to this project! In fact, towards the end of their time here, we had a visit from Australian Aid, the majority donor on this project. They were amazed when comparing our project to many others. We do not use contractors, so with no profit – all funds go back into building. On top of that, dedicated church people come to contribute money and free labor. In the world of foreign aid, there are naturally concerns to look out for corruption, inefficiency, etc.. as they try to justify the use of money for the sending countries – so to have an organization not only using funds efficiently but exceeding their commitment is a real relief to them and an important building block in keeping solid partnerships for this ministry.
The team not only worked, they came and experienced the running of the hospital ministry. They encouraged and prayed with patients. While singing on the ward one baby, Helena, nearly died. The team prayed with us as we continued to resuscitate what looked to be a hopeless case medically. God was gracious and Helena not only survived but a few days later was thriving!
The team followed up with churches where patient who experienced the love of God in the hospital and had become followers of Christ. One of these was a brand new preaching point where a patient has given land for a new church. The first week they had 4 people, the next week 25, and the third week when the team came they had 83!
Each of these opportunities is about changing hearts. Those that go on work and witness trips see God at work in different ways and return challenged to serve God in new ways as well as understanding the importance of foreign missions. The people they meet are always moved at such an extravagant gift of love – not only sending money, but sending themselves – giving of their own time for someone they have never met in a place they had never seen. In the economy of grace it is an extravagant, generous gift. It challenges all of us to consider what we will sacrifice to help others. (In fact we are currently challenging some of our PNG leaders to be considering starting PNG work and witness teams!) It touches our staff, patients and communities. It encourages our missionaries. It supports the work, and shows the world how ordinary people can make a difference. It unites the body of Christ in a way you can’t put on a budget spreadsheet. It is God at work through His people around the world.