December 13, 2014 @ 6:11 PM by: Jennifer Frank
Last week we had the final “official” meet up with the team that went down to Bolivia this past August and Canadian Baptist Ministries. It was good to once again reflect on what God had done throughout our time together – and what God continues to do in our lives.
Whenever short term mission is discussed, the questions “Why bother going in the first place?Wouldn’t it be better just to send money?” arise. When I think of these questions I think of our experience in La Paz with the lustrabotas. These are young people who are either on or not very far from the street. They earn money by shining shoes, wearing masks and hats partly as a mark of their sub-culture and partly to hide their shame. When I heard that we were going to spend a morning sitting and working with a group of lustrabotas, I wondered how we would be accepted and received by them and their customers. Would the sight of a masked 6’4” man walking along the streets of La Paz cause some consternation? In our culture, masks are usually a sign of being up to no good.
The day turned into one of the most meaningful experiences of the two weeks for me. The lustrabota youth we were with had formed themselves into a kind of guild, with a house they used as a base of operations. They band together for protection and to make sure that if one of their number can’t work for whatever reason, they’re still supported. Spending the morning with them on the streets gave new meaning to the concept of coming alongside people. Our friend Luceyro from El Alto told us of how she’s been running a Bible study monthly for these kids – bringing church to a group of people who may not feel welcome in church.
We don’t get to meet these kids, hear their stories, have a chance to literally sit down with them, hear about and be encouraged by what God is doing through people like Luceyro, if we don’t show up. I don’t say that to signify that we’re such excellent people, but to show that where we choose to place ourselves matters. As I heard someone say recently, Christianity is an embodied faith – God came to us in the form of human body –and what we do with our bodies matters.
None of the above happens if people don’t show up.