Recently we had the pleasure of seeing a task completed here on the mission field. We don’t always see the immediate fruit of our labors, so this was particularly sweet for us. This past Sunday we dedicated a bathroom to the service of God’s House. I know, we’ve reached new heights! This is our second term as missionaries, so see what all you first term-ers out there have to look forward too? Not everyone is qualified to do such work. But in all seriousness, this day was one of those days when I felt like I was doing what I was made to do.
Last year our last team of the summer was from Brandon, Florida. We brought the team out to a poor little church on the edge of town. The sanctuary is nothing but 4 concrete block walls and a hot tin roof. Next to the sanctuary is a dilapidated shack that the congregation was using as a Sunday School room, a make shift kitchen and a single stall bathroom for the whole church. It was barely standing on its own. The church had been told that since it was obviously not up to code, they would have to build a bathroom or close their doors.
The heart strings of the team were touched. When they went back home, they presented this need to their congregation and they raised $5,000 to give to the church for the bathrooms and whatever other renovations were needed to bring it up to code. The poor little church was beside itself with happiness. At Christmas time, we brought the money into the country and delivered it to the pastor, who we highly trust. In 22 days the church members constructed two bathrooms on the back of the property and were working on various projects to make the whole place handicap accessible, by Latin American standards.
But the amazing thing has been the response of the community. In this past month of working on the building, they have almost doubled in attendance. One man who lives down the street from the church would never speak to the pastor. He was recently released from jail again. With some of the money from the team, the pastor hired this ex-con to help with the construction of the bathroom. Now his opinion of the pastor and the church is quite different than it had been in the past. He is open to hearing what the pastor has to say.
This bathroom is more than a place to relieve the call of nature, it has brought dignity and respectability to the church in that community. It has financially met a felt need of the workers who were hired to demolish the old and build the new, and it has been a source of pride for the church members themselves who now feel that they have worth and dignity. No longer must they squat in a scary, dirty shack that shakes and shutters with every gust of wind. Now they have a lovely facility that is even handicap accessible for those in the community with such needs… and there are many.
So we had the privilege of going out to the church to get video and photos for the church in Florida who are excited to see the results of their giving. But more importantly, we felt the pride of the pastor and the church who built his with their own hands, and it is beautiful.