When I was in Mongolia with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) the ongoing outreach task we had was to help with the building of an outreach center. Through this building project, I learned many lessons! I learned about the importance of the body of Christ, the importance of listening, the importance of learning some of the language of the culture you are immersed in, and of course, a thing or two about building.
I learned a lot about the body of Christ and the importance of each individual in many ways, this also ties into the value of good communication. When building an outreach center there are a lot of people involved and each step of the process and each person is so needed. The way they build things in Mongolia is very different from the way we put up buildings in North America.
In North America, we generally hire or gather together whole teams of experienced construction workers. However, in Mongolia, a dump truck showed up with a load full of bricks and drops it off near the building site and leaves. The family that ran the organization did a lot of work every day on this building, church people came over and helped out, and of course, our team (inexperienced) and other teams like us also helped out with the building.
Our main job was throwing bricks was to move the bricks from where the truck dumped them into piles where the bricks were being mortared and put into the walls of the actual building. When I say we threw the bricks, we did, there were no gentle handoffs to move the bricks, we were heaving them to the next person. So, when I say each person in a team, in a congregation is needed, I really mean it. When one person from our team was sick or had another task to do we felt it. We literally felt the pain of them being gone because we would have to throw the bricks farther and the catching of the bricks would become more painful as they made contact with your hands. If one person was not paying attention, it would slow everything down, and they may even reap the consequence of getting hit with a brick (yes, that happened).
This is also why communication is so important. If someone at the end of the line needs the pace to slow down because they cannot stack the bricks quickly, due to the pace of everyone throwing the bricks to them, then they need to communicate that otherwise everybody would be at risk of getting hurt.
Everyone on the team needs to be aware of everyone else on the team so that no disaster happens. This is the same with a church congregation or a youth group. Know where your team, your group, your church is at. Help those who are at a different place catch up, give them tools and extra time to understand, take the time to listen to those who are struggling, don’t leave anyone behind.
If you are the one who is hurting, speak up and talk to someone. Like the person who needs a slower pace with the brick throwing, if you don’t say that you need to go slower, or need something explained more, how will the rest of the team or congregation know? Being in a team or a church congregation requires everyone to be present, to do their part, to participate.
When we were doing this project in Mongolia we also had an extra step in regards to communication and that was overcoming some language barriers. We got pretty good at charades, however, when you are throwing bricks and need people to pause you can’t really do charades, you need to know some of the language. So, we learned some practical words to help us out on the worksite such as; brick, wait, hello, how are you, stop, you’re welcome, and a few other words that I can no longer remember because it was 4 years ago. But learning the language of your team members is also really important in communicating.
One of the things that I struggled with through the project was that I would not be a part of the whole process. I would not see the end result or all of the amazing things that the organization would do through the building. Through reflecting on this God really humbled me and helped me to see that the purpose of the completed building was not for me. I was blessed so much by getting to be a part of the building project, to be part of something that would be used to teach English, serve the community, and spread the Truth and light of Jesus to those who entered it. We don’t always get to reap what we have sown. To see the result of the things that we do in life and that is okay.
When my team left Mongolia the first floor with its walls and ceiling were complete. There was a team that was there before us and teams that would come after we left that would continue the work and finish the building. God sent workers and He would continue to do so until the task was complete. I thank God that I got to be a part of this beautiful process, I got to partner with amazing people, and I got to do my piece of the puzzle in a much larger picture.
I did end up getting to see the finished project through pictures on Facebook and it’s cool to think that I was a part of it, that God used our team to throw bricks. Just one piece of a greater picture but so necessary for the building. Each person is important and they have a part to play that can affect so many more than they could ever imagine.
This is the same with church attendees. Each person in the congregation has a talent, a gift, a purpose, a song, and is needed to build up the church. When one person does not participate or just slips in the back pew and slips out without contributing anything or talking to anyone something is missing. Could you imagine if we left out a brick or two from the outreach center while it was being built? Sure we would still have the center but it would be nowhere near as effective. The wind may get in through the cracks, rain might get in through the hole and cause water damage, the building would not be as sturdy and other problems could occur because of the missing piece(s).
Every piece, every person is needed for the body of Christ to function at its best capacity. Are you doing your part? How could you use your talents, character, and gifts to be a part of and support the greater picture in obedience to God?