Going into my first mission trip, I really didn’t know what to expect. I initially thought, “I’m going to get to work full-time with the homeless, and I’ll get to talk with all of them and it’ll be so cool to just converse and get to know their story”. I was really pumped up for Skid Row, and I was ecstatic. But God had other plans for me, so that He could teach me about serving and humbleness. When we finally started our first day of ministry at the Dream Center, I didn’t find myself reaching out to those on the streets like the other groups did, instead, I found myself sweeping the back alley of a church, cleaning up bird poop, in the midst of the occasional cockroach. It really was a lot more different than I had expected. I was actually somewhat upset at first! I thought, “Why should I be the one doing this? Other groups get to go down to the streets and handout food. Why wasn’t I doing that?”. But then I felt God just completely go through all those layers of pride and arrogance, I felt God telling me, “What makes you think you can be an example of Christ to others if you can’t even humble yourself to wash the back of a church?” It was quite a slap in the face when God told me that. I realized that I was acting like a tourist, I wasn’t there to serve, I was there because I wanted to do what I had wanted to do. I was prideful and I really didn’t want to do such dirty work. I was doing God’s work, but I wasn’t willingly doing it, on the inside, I was complaining and I felt upset and unsatisfied with the job I was assigned. I was really not being a good example of Christ to the custodians or anyone else who passed by. So after hearing from God, it finally hit me that ministry isn’t always big things like caring for the homeless or feeding the poor, ministry is being an example of Christ everywhere we go, no matter how irritating the job may seem or how boring it my be. The time I had with just myself and God in that back alley had given me new insight and I felt God really change my perspectives and humble me. The bird poop was really hard to wash off, even though I scrubbed, soaked, and saturated it in bleach, not all of it disappeared and some marks still remained, but there was an improvement and the poop was now barely visible. This was quite similar to what had happened to me that day. Even though God had changed me and spoke to me, I still didn’t resolve my pride completely.
Even though I had fixed some of my pride the day prior, today’s jobs brought on even more challenges. I was assigned to the group responsible for cleaning up the streets…….. in housed areas with little to no homeless people. I hadn’t completely eradicated my pride despite the work God had done on me the day prior and I found myself somewhat cranky in the first half-hour or so. I was walking around a bunch of neighborhoods, picking up garbage and cleaning what we could off the sidewalks. I felt disappointment and some degree of irritation when I picked up numerous empty cigarette packages and junk food wrappers. I wasn’t really giving my best into the job. I was just trying to get the job done, and I wanted to just get out and leave as quickly as possible. I was giving trying to give the people at the dream center the minimum I had to do. God then really just pointed out to me the standard of the work I was producing. I hastily cleaned what was easy to pick up, and wasn’t soiled or dirty. I wasn’t doing ministry, I was just trying to stay in my comfort zone, I was once again, being a tourist. God then poked at me with a verse which I had learned quite a while ago.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. (Colossians 3:23)
I guess I then just really was shocked then with this verse. Ministry isn’t something you can work at half-heartedly. You must always give your best to God, not only in ministry, but in the day to day of something we call life.