Here's a short story from a partner in Asia that captures the simple truth: mission is all about building real relationships with real people.
I've recently moved into a new place... and it needed a little sprucing up. The paint was peeling and a counter top was rotting. I employed a man named VJ to do the painting and to oversee the small amount plumbing and electrical work. Like many people, VJ finds it difficult to get regular work, so two weeks of pay was a windfall for him.
A friend of VJs later told me about a time she visited his daughters at their boarding school. She bought with her some cloth for clothes. When they saw this simple gift, the girls broke into tears. It had been a couple of years since they had new clothes. How many teenagers would be that grateful for new clothes? I tried putting myself in their shoes - most likely I would have resented not being able to choose the fabric, but here they were, overjoyed by a simple gift. That's one of the great things about mission. Not only do we help people change, but they challenge us and change us, showing us more of what it means to be human.
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