Ten Days of Change
“Ten days of change.” That was our slogan last January, as we smashed seven African American young men from Compton into a minivan and headed off to Colorado. This was our very first “reverse” missions trip. We have hosted many groups over the years who come to serve in the city but this time young men from the city were going to the suburbs of Boulder to serve. We were going to be salt and light as best we could.
It was easy to see that the men were excited, but underneath the excitement there was a lot of fear. Most of them had never been out of LA or seen snow or more than a handful of white people at a time. We were going to serve at Discovery Church in Broomfield, CO. The church had been meeting at a local school and was almost finished with building their new facility. We were going to build a new playground for the kids as well as assemble one hundred acoustical panels.
The first night we arrived in Broomfield at our liaison’s home everyone’s anxiety mounted. Not only were they in the nicest house they had ever seen, but there were white hosts, who were going to take them away in pairs to their homes for the week. At one point my men took me downstairs and were begging me, “Please Bob don't make us go. Let us just stay with you in this basement. We’ll sleep on the floor. Please Bob.” I said no and made them go with their hosts anyway. Later I found out that at the same time the hosts were asking our liaison, “Is it going to be alright to take these men? They look kind of rough. Are you sure this is a good idea?” But, by the end of the week the hosts and these young men had become family to each other. It was one of the best relationship building times of their lives and over a year later everyone still stays in touch.
Relationship is what creates change: relationship with God and relationship with each other. The mission trip was so powerful for the men and the hosts because they trusted God enough to go outside of their comfort zones and take risks. Satan wants to divide people and create fear, but as we reach out to each other, walls are broken down, God is glorified and we fulfill Jesus’ prayer, “…that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:23)