The youth group at Braddock Street United Methodist Church (BSUMC) in Winchester, Virginia has participated in many mission trip projects over the course of the teenage years of my family’s six children. We have been to the hills of West Virginia and South Dakota and the streets of Chicago, New York and Lima, Peru. Over the years, we have helped to rebuild homes and spirits in storm damaged communities in Mississippi, North Carolina and Alabama. We have provided comfort to those whom are homeless in Washington, DC and in our own community.
God has blessed our church family with an abundance of love and resources. Our church’s leadership is equally blessed with a forward looking vision of God’s plan for mankind.
In the summer of 2010, our church’s youth and adults embarked on another mission project. Every three years, we select a foreign destination to deploy our love, talents and resources. Through our new friends at Back2Back Ministries, we chose Hyderabad, India.
We set off on our India mission trip on July 14. Four flights and thirty-six hours later, we were on the ground in Hyderabad. We were first greeted by the warm smiles of Back2Back staff asking, “Are you all from Virginia?” It was obvious that our team stood out in the busy crowd at baggage claim. But we knew that God had placed us with the correct people that would help us deliver our church’s talents and gifts.
Back2Back India is a well-run, organized, and motivated group of God’s disciples. Their goals are simple and ego-less: provide for the basic needs of the orphanages today, so that tomorrow can be better. Whether the goals are working toilets and septic system, reliable and safe drinking water, cot pads to sleep on, or a refrigerator, Back2Back and our group were able to execute with God’s grace and guidance.
However, our greatest gift (given and received) came in a simplistic use of an unthought-of talent. I would imagine that if one was to ask the children of Eternal Joy and Mercy Home, “What do you remember most about the Americans?,” the children might answer, “They played with us.”
While our team taught English and math, dug trenches, laid sewer pipes, and brought school supplies, cookware and toys, perhaps our most well-received gift was the joy of playing catch, skipping rope, painting fingernails, drawing in chalk or playing soccer and Kabaddi, an Indian game.
Only God knew from the onset of the mission, that the simple act of playing with a child would be so rewarding for everyone. Only God knew that clearing a 40’ by 40’ patch of earth on a steamy Indian summer day, and a soccer ball, would yield such great joy for sixty-four boys that same evening.
The brightness of a child’s smile is so renewing for one’s soul. The eye contact and connection made playing catch with a young child is such a blessing. The simple act of playing connects with children no matter their age, race, greed or religion.
God is great. God is amazing. God’s knows exactly what is required.