Every year I lead a mission trip to New York City. And every year, we have an incredible experience. We serve the Lower Manhattan Community Church in the Battery Park City/Tribeca area of Manhattan as well as help out at the World Vision Storehouse in the Bronx. Our friends at both ministries are a joy to work with. We are blessed to have such wonderful ministry partners. They are making a difference in the Kingdom work in New York City.
But I feel the need to whine share about the great challenge I face each and every year when leading this mission trip. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “herding cats,” well, that’s exactly what I have to do with my team through the streets of New York.
Last week our team was invited to Ryan and Brittany Holladay’s place for dinner. Ryan is the Pastor at LMCC. We left the hotel together, walking the half block to the subway station in order to catch the R train to Brooklyn. I led the way, walking at the same pace as most of the senior citizen’s of New York. The other male in our group of eight was at my side. As I turned to head down the stairs, I looked up and saw one of the women on our team following close behind. We made eye contact, so I continued my descent into the bowels of the subway system and proceeded through the turn style. And there I waited…and waited…and waited. Finally, I saw my wife’s beautiful face appear on the subway steps. Her expression showed a sense of relief as well as a desire for revenge all at the same time. I smiled and waved. She ran and got the other wandering missionaries and then joined the rest of us on the subway platform.
I apologized, or at least I thought about it, and then we made our way to a wonderful evening of food and laughter. I realize I’m writing this at my own peril, but I thought it would be fun to theologize about it on my blog. Now I’m quite certain that some of the team members will come up with a totally different interpretation, so I invite them to share their honest, yet grace-filled thoughts in the comment section below.
Here’s my take: We are all on a journey in a strange land. We love the land but we realize we are not natives, we are aliens. And as aliens, we realize we need direction on our journey or else we will lose our way. So we must always keep our eye on our leader for we know he is just up ahead, leading us to a destination where there will be a celebration banquet filled with joy and community. BUT, if we get distracted, if we don’t pay attention, if we get too involved in our own little conversations or we become preoccupied with all the strange people and sights, we run the risk of missing the train. And that wouldn’t be good.