There are many talented and wonderful people on this team. A member of Singing Men is Gerry Lewis. He is the Executive Director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Wise County. He writes a daily blog and many of us read him daily. I asked him to write something to post here. Wow, did he write a great word for all of us. Enjoy this from Gerry Lewis.
Heroic, Courageous, Angels … I have heard each of those words used to describe us. To clarify, it is our Ukranian friends, not us, who have used those descriptors. I’m certain that God would remove His hand of blessing if that were our own attitude. As Michael mentioned a few days ago, God will not bless if we think we have “it” or if we think we are “it.”
Honestly, I don’t care who uses the words, I’m really not feeling very heroic or courageous. And I really can’t imagine that anyone else among us feels that way either. Not that we are feeling fearful or cowardly, just that it really doesn’t occur to us to frame this mission trip in those terms.
Though we have traveled thousands of miles to bring the message of the gospel to a discouraged people in a conflicted and war-torn country, and although they live under constant pressure and uncertainty (reminds me of Jesus’s compassionate reflection on the multitudes: that they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd), I haven’t given a second thought to personal safety.
Of course, we are as far away from the “danger zones” in Ukraine as Dallas is from violence on the Texas/Mexico border, so the risk of real danger to us is slim. But Dallas residents who have relatives in conflicted border towns have a different perspective. And while the people to whom we are singing may not fear for their personal safety, many of them have lost loved ones in the current conflict. Michael told us a couple of days ago about a woman who brought her two small children to our concert. Less than two weeks ago she buried her husband, killed serving on the eastern front. She said, “God sent you here for us.” As far as I’m concerned, she’s the courageous one. These people, especially the pastors and churches that are ministering in these communities every day, are the real heroes.
There is, however, a legitimate fear for us: that we will lose focus. The choir that loses focus begins to be sloppy in their singing. The ministry that loses focus begins to be sloppy in their service. Fortunately, we have outstanding directors on this trip that can call us back to focus and keep the mission at the forefront. But the risk of losing focus will really increase when we go home.
In less than a week, this team of 170 Americans will board planes to head back to our individual lives and churches. This specific team will never be together again this side of heaven. Some from our team will be returning to conflicted churches and communities. All of us will be returning to people who have not shared this amazing experience. It could very well be that courageous focus will be required then much more than now.
Prayer partners, pray that we will never be satisfied going back to normal. Pray that we will courageously follow Jesus and the lifelong mission before us.