Dave Miller, executive director of Adventures in Life (AIL), was talking with one of the men yesterday in San Felipe Guila, Oaxaca, Mexico. That’s where this years Medical Team has been ministering, today and yesterday.
He asked, “why are you guys here? Nobody comes here (to San Felipe Guila).”
If you look on the map, there really isn’t much there. Most of the men in the town have left to find work in the city, near the border or in the U.S. Folks leave the town, they don’t come here for vacation, or even for missions trips.
Dave and I were talking today about his question, and it really was a good question that opened itself up to further questions of how short term missions is done across the globe.
I don’t profess to know much about short term missions philosophy and methodology, but I know what I’ve seen over the years as a photographer for Miles Ahead ministries and other groups that do short term missions.
The idea of, “bang for the buck” is an interesting concept. Dave shared a story with me of an missions leader telling him that trips with AIL are “cheap” in comparison to other missions groups. That he loved what AIL is doing in Mexico and he could see that real help is happening through Adventures in Life ministries. Bang for the buck!
But…what AIL does isn’t flashy, fashionable or trendy. Not that short term missions should be any of those things, but that missions leader was looking for something with more “show,” that would look good to the church that sent the group. They wanted big extravagant events and projects that look good and project well when doing a power point presentation to the missions folks and pastors.
What I’ve witnessed over the last 3 years, in the time I’ve been coming to photograph AIL ministries, is relationship and community building. A belief that working with local churches and pastors, and long term missionaries like Pastor Rolando in San Felipe Guila, is smarter than trying to come to an area and “do something” big for big’s sake.
Pastor Rolando & his wife
Adventures in Life understands that those in the trenches know better than any missions director in the states. That bigger isn’t always better when it comes to doing short term missions. By asking those who are ministering long term in the field, and living alongside them in community, Adventures in Life can partner with and help these missionaries better reach those who don’t know Jesus yet.
Unfortunately, too many U.S. churches want the big dog and pony show that looks good on video and looks good when sharing from the pulpit.
That’s not what Adventures in Life is all about.
Walking down the street from Casa Arnel, on the way to Ocotlan and guess what I see in the car window…Go Chargers!
The view from the road to Ocotlan…
On the bus ride to Ocotlan….reading God’s Word!
Pineapples! Lots of Pineapples!
Walking through the market I saw this Dad talking to his son…it looked as if he was encouraging his son, he had a big smile as he was talking with him and gesturing and holding his son’s head in what can only be described as a loving manner. Not sure who the other kid was, if it was his brother or friend, but he was smiling too, even though you can’t see his face in the photo. Trust me, it was all good.
I love all the colors in the market, but unfortunately they use these blue and red tarps to cover and shield the market area from the sun…but it casts this blue and red shade on everything. So when i saw these beautiful bell peppers in the sun I had to get this photo! I wish yall could have seen this in real time…the colors just popped!!
I took this photo for Cyndy…since she couldn’t make it this time to Oaxaca and seems to only know how to take photos of flowers and her dog!
These guys don’t look so happy… after-all it is market day in Ocotlan and they’re for sale!
I love how big and colorful the churches are in Mexico. Yes it is a Catholic Church. But It doesn’t stop me from acknowledging the God I serve and having reverence and awe for how big He is and how small I am! And remembering that He died on the cross for my sin that I might have life and breath…to serve Him with my whole heart.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(Matthew 11:29-30 ESV)
What a great reminder…this yoke weighed about 40 pounds. Can’t imagine trying to roll with this on my back for more than a few seconds. It reminds me that I need to trust Christ first and foremost for all my needs. That while I was the only photographer able to make it to Oaxaca this time, it is a team effort. The work is made easier and less burdensome with the help of many hands. I believe that’s why we are told in Hebrews
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)
I am encouraged by what I see in Oaxaca…and the main work hasn’t begun yet. It was a great day with God!