"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lent - Day 27

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)

The first thought in my mind was “Dear God, why have you led me to this place?!” This question came after a brief moment when I realized I was lying in a part-time buffalo field, covered with buffalo poop (and that of various other animals), muddy and a scraped body from being dragged across said field by a 300-pound Dutchess County, NY fireman. No, this wasn’t a bad dream or drug-induced hallucination; it was a part of being on the glamorous mission field. I had led a group of teenagers and adults to the hamlet of Stormville, NY for a week of cooperation with the Stormville Baptist Church in doing day camps, community outreach and construction. We thought (should have thought twice) about challenging the local fire department to a ‘fun’ game of Pillow Polo to bring the entire small town together for games and a cookout as a ministry of the church.
Now, Pillow Polo sounds like a fun little game in the game catalog, but in reality is a game from the depths of hell. It is played like polo (minus the horses… or buffalo), with the sticks wrapped on the end with a nerf substance. These sticks are used to whack a ball down the field into a soccer-type goal. Yeah, fun. Except that the nerf-like substance wasn’t like real nerf, it was just a step softer than PVC pipe in a bright color. Plus, when turned loose into the hands of children, teenagers and adults, the overwhelming desire to whack someone upside the head becomes too strong to resist.
So, on the fateful evening of the ‘mission challenge,’ the huge, burly, donut-full, yankee, fireman tromped onto the field and proceeded to destroy us by whatever means necessary. Of course, telling them were a nice little church from a very southern Georgia, probably didn’t help our case at all. The official town field and gathering place was part of the buffalo range which gave the ‘pride of New York’ all the more incentive for chaos. So, when you are lying face down in a pile of buffalo droppings, it’s difficult to remember your objective is to share Jesus.
Do you ever get dragged through the mess as part of your daily life? Do you ever get mired down in the gunk of the world, so that you forget that we are to be the Light? We are to make a difference? I am supposed to be joyful in all things and give thanks? For the buffalo mess, Yankee firemen, and “all in fun” humiliation in front of our mission field?
All in all, we had a fun evening and the church began to make an impact on the small town. I wasn’t the only one smothered and covered, but we were able to laugh about it (at least after we got showers and clean clothes). But, I did learn that how we manage ourselves when undergoing trials and tribulations make a big difference in our witness. When you find yourself in a difficult time where your patience is being tried, just remember that you could be a nice younger student pastor covered with buffalo poop.

Blessed be the name of the LORD!


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