The Only Comfort
Rev. MJ Hinchliff from First Church of Christ Congregational has been going on mission trips to the Dominican Republic for 11 years, has been a team leader for medical missions for the past 4 years, and in July, headed a team of 22 to serve with Good Samaritan Hospital in the outlying sugar cane bateys. The poverty and living conditions are heartbreaking and MJ believes it will take generations to correct. Still, every year, incremental improvements are seen in the general health of the people living on bateys.
She saw God at work when the look on the face of someone who has just received a pair of eyeglasses reminded her of the stories of Jesus healing the blind. On one occasion, they took someone back to the hospital for treatment of wounds and covered the costs for treatment through the Team. They organized games and sports with the children, distributed bags of food, school supplies and clothing.
Team members experienced a deepening relationship with God through deeper prayer life and daily reflections of Scripture read through the lens of their mission experiences. For those who have not been aware of the needs experienced by most of the world, the mission was an eye-opener. It was gratifying to MJ that the team bonded very well considering many members met the rest of the team only on the day they left for a mission that lasted just a week. Intentional time to check in with members and support them spiritually is vital for the care of any team.
To prepare short-term mission teams for international service, MJ suggests community building early on, have people who had already gone share their stories and most powerful experiences, and say ‘Sorry no, not this year’ when it is obvious that a person is not quite ready yet for the work that lies ahead.
MJ and her team already have dates in place for the next mission trip in 2010.