Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why go to Swaziland???

We have a team getting ready for another trip to Swaziland in sub-Saharan Africa. As we prepare and pray for this trip, I can’t help but think about what happened this Easter break in California. Many [many, many] churches canceled their Mexico mission trips and decided to do something significant in the mission field at home. Swine flu and political unrest made Mexico’s spring break mission “hot spot” much less desirable.

Our Youth for Christ chapter was one of the home mission fields. Situated in a blighted Fresno neighborhood we have plenty of needy urban kids. A team from Sacramento spent the week with our neighborhood kids doing VBS. The week was fun and full of energy. Anywhere from 10 to 30 kids showed up every day. The team brought resources well outside of our budget. Several kids made decisions to follow Jesus. We were blessed, the Sacto team was blessed, the neighborhood kids were blessed. But YFC is in the neighborhood and the schools day-after-day, year-after-year. There are plenty more kids where these came from, and many other mission agencies slugging it out day-after-day. So why are we bothering to go to Swaziland (or Mexico), with so much mission work in our own backyard?

It’s not a rhetorical question. I don’t intend to state the obvious, and I don’t have the answers. I’m grateful that this year the Lord seemed to bring local mission opportunities to the fore. In our case, the day-in-day-out work has been producing fruit for 65 years. But serving in downtown Fresno is not as exciting as taking a team to Mexico (or Swaziland). And as limited as our resources are, we have an abundance compared to many mission posts in the developing world. And what if every American just decided to stay home? What kind of kingdom difference would we all make in our own communities if the overseas mission field were not so compelling? What kind of mission work wouldn’t get done if we all stayed home? Are our trips overseas really making a difference for desperate people who need help (and need Jesus), or has our mission work become little more than an adventure for Americans, a chance to do something a little more glamorous than mission work in our own backyards?

I have some [mixed up] thoughts, but I’d like to hear from others. If you are on the team heading off in a few short weeks, what do you think? What about our host, Pastor Arnau van Wyngaard (read his blog here)? Others?

In the weeks ahead I’ll post some thoughts here, and also post thoughts from my teammates. While in Swaziland, we’re hoping the whole team can jump in a few times with updates, and I hope others will jump in with us.


  1. Comments seem to be working! I think I'll rather respond to this on my own blog:

  2. I have definitely heard the statements/questions, "Why would you go overseas into another country for mission work when there is sooo much need here in your own homeland?!" That is a Totally Valid Statement/Question... AND very easy for me to answer. I am a firm believer in God Given Purpose & Passion. He is the one who has placed within my heart the passions that reside in the first place! How could I ever deny God?! I do not need to worry about His "Why", I only need to be "Where" He shows me He is working - "Where" he tells me to be... "Where" my next bottle of hair gel will come from - but that's on a different list. It is so unbelievably freeing to understand that my passions aren't really birthed by me, but a gift given for me to experience. I LOVE listening to God - It is so much more exciting than trying to accomplish life through my own accord... It's NEVER dull, that's for sure. I would be doing my homeys a disservice if I told God "No, You don't really need me there in Africa do you? How 'bout I stay here and serve instead?" Me, telling God how things should be never works out well in my experience. It's like singing the perfect rendition of "Over The Rainbow" but to the score of "Amazing Grace" - It doesn't matter how perfect you do your work; If it's not done in the right place, than it's no good! Besides, God uses different people for different tasks. We all have a unique shape (I'm personally trying to slim mine down), and there's no sense in trying to pound a square peg into a round shaped hole... or a J-Lo Kiester into Paris Hilton's jeans. Anyway, my point is that we would do well to recognize that our design's in life are one of a kind and run with it.... well, that is if "running" is your thing - I'm not exactly Sporty Spice myself.

    Back to Swaziland (that is what this blog spot is about)... I have to tell you - When I was serving on a mission in the Mpumalanga area of South Africa about 3 years ago, there was a young woman (with fabulous hair I must add) from Cape Town who kept bringing up the Swazi' people and their struggles. I'll never forget the conversations we had... Swazi's King, poverty, rumors that sex with virgins would cure AIDS/HIV, orphans raising orphans, the Swazi Harem, don't eat the meat @ Whimpy's - oh, wait... that was another conversation. In all seriousness though, That single girl's passion created a new beginning of passion within my own soul. If you really know me, you know that's no bluff. I knew in those moments that I would come back to Africa someday and go to Swaziland... And here I am - packin' my bags 'cuz God said "Go!".

    I think it is incredible how God can use one voice to create a ripple. I can't wait to make some waves myself ~~~

  3. Yes, it is incredible how God can use one voice to create a ripple. I agree Michelle, when something is an undeniably strong yearning in one's heart it is hard (wrong) to justify attempts to redirect it. I’ve always said that a need does not necessarily constitute a call. I believe that God will match up the needs with the calls, but this of course requires obedience on our part, and I know that I’m often more rebellious than obedient.


  4. Wendy, I will be praying for you, Rich and your team. I will pray that you stay healthy so that you can accomplish the desires of your hearts so that He can work His miracles through each one of you.
    Be safe and God Bless you, Carol DiBuduo