**Team 1 is confirmed to have arrived safely at the site at around 11:30pm Saturday**
This Saturday morning at 5am, 9 members and 1 friend of Providence Presbyterian Church drove off in the dark to serve once again in Long Beach, Mississippi. Many of them took time off, used their vacation time and set out to paint and build houses for those who lost it all because of Katrina 4 years ago. Tomorrow, 3 more people will set out to join them for the week.
This is something published in the Tatting in April 2008, when we came back last year:
As the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina moves further and further back from memory, questions will continue to rise on whether there is still a need for such work. While we were in Mississippi we heard others ask about the merit by which those we served deserved the houses that the church was building for them. On the very day that I returned from the trip I was asked “Doesn’t the government have to help these people? Why is your church going?” And of course the most popular question I hear “Doesn’t it make more sense to send the money you spend on the mission trip and let them hire someone down there?” (I’m not a professional contractor but I’m sure installing tile floors and kitchen cabinets, only 1/3 of what we did, would have cost more than the entire expense of our trip).
Ultimately, all these questions seek one single answer. Why do Christians serve? Why do we feed the hungry and clothe the poor? Why do we build houses for people who might or might not deserve them? Why do we build nice houses for people who had houses that were falling apart even before the storm? Why do we serve?
Jesus revolutionized our understanding of sacrifices when he made himself the sacrifice. A sacrifice used to be something you gave up at the temple for your forgiveness. When Jesus Christ became the sacrifice, He gave himself up for your salvation. You gave up nothing but you gained it all. Jesus gave up everything to gain what was already His. Hence, a post-Jesus sacrifice is not a “sacrifice” at all. You don’t really give up anything. In the same way, when Jesus spoke about the poor and needy He revolutionized our understanding of service. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus makes it clear that whatever we do for one of the least of these we did it for Him. Jesus not only put himself on the side of the needy, but He made himself one of the needy.
I used to take my used clothes to the Salvation Army donation box thinking that I was doing something good. I really believed that giving my old clothes away and taking cheap canned foods to the food pantry was a good and Christian thing to do. I believed that until I was convicted of the Matthew 25 passage. When I give my coat to someone who does not have one, I actually give it to Jesus. When I give food to someone who is hungry, I’m actually feeding Jesus. If Jesus was standing right in front of me and he was cold, would I give him my old coat? Probably not. I would give him a new one. I still take my clothes to the Salvation Army but I buy new stuff to give to the poor, not for the poor but because I believe I’m giving it to Jesus.
So why do we serve? Because Jesus said that is how we serve Him. Why do we build nice houses for people who might not deserve it? Because Jesus said that is how He wants us to serve Him, whether anyone deserves anything is none of our business. We build houses much nicer than the people living in it could afford because we don’t build it for them. We build it for Jesus. That is why we serve. We serve because we worship a servant King.