(This summer will be the first that will not include an LFCC mission trip since 2011. Below is a previous article that talks about the past, but also reflects the future as we continue to “Smile at the Storm.”)
The idiom “the shoe was on the other foot” basically means that a circumstance or situation has been reversed, allowing a person to experience another person’s point of view. This was never as obvious to me as it was during the summer of ‘81, as this college student made his first trip to Jamaica on a short-term mission adventure. (The same type of trip that 60+ people from LFCC have experienced over the past decade when they have left for the Appalachian area. It also seems relevant to the recent upheaval of racial tension in our country).
As a young adult, my attitude was definitely not what it should have been when we left for that Caribbean island nearly 40 years ago! The goal, in my mind, was not building a camp dormitory or even encouraging others in their walk with the Lord. Instead, it was more in line with having fun, exploring something new, AND…returning home with an absolutely gorgeous tan. (I wish this last one was a joke).
My attitude towards the Jamaicans lacked somewhat (ok, A LOT) to be desired. The junior high campers seemed to be annoying and sometimes a burden to deal with while we were working or resting. I remember thinking/praying one evening in my tent, as another day had come to a close, “These poverty-stricken campers sure are lucky that I am here to help them make things better!” Little did I know that God was going to help ME see who was really in control.
After nearly two weeks of unrelenting labor, we finished the work on the dorm and now could experience a couple of days of being typical tourists. But first we had some unfinished business in the form of a volleyball match. A group of Canadians, who were also serving at the camp, had challenged the Americans to a friendly competition for a little NBR. (National Bragging Rights)! Early into this “Jamaican Olympic” showdown, this stalwart of the team jumped up to spike the ball and upon my return to the ground, quickly and effectively broke a bone in my foot. The match ended before it had hardly started as this writer hobbled and limped from the field of play.
That night in my sleeping bag I was not a happy camper as most of the time was spent in pain and anger. I was certainly, above everything else, not happy with God because HE had allowed my injury just at the point when I was about to have some fun! However, the SHOE was about to change.
From that moment on, those “poverty-stricken campers” were figuratively fighting over who received the honor of helping the American who had injured himself. They took turns bringing me food, drinks, towels, etc. They even brought me special treats that I think were intended for themselves. It surely marked a moment in my life as true humility was understood at its finest. The shoe was figuratively AND literally on the other foot! Basically, God had exposed the REAL “poverty-stricken” individual at that camp.
It would prove to be the catalyst that helped change my life. A few months later, the person with the healed foot and heart, left the business school at Indiana University and enrolled at Kentucky Christian College.
Today, as the continual effects of the coronavirus and the ongoing social unrest of our society permeate our daily lives with sadness and disappointment, it is even more important to remind one another of two items.
#1 – This is not the worst pandemic we face and
#2 – Our real enemy is not found in our fellow brother or sister.
#1 – “For all have SINNED and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23
#2 – “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the DEVIL prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
This is why these mission trips are so important to me. They take us away from our own comfort zones and force us to look to the only ONE who can cure our problems. Even without our trip, may God still help us continually grow within His Service as we attempt to always Put the Shoe on the other Foot with an open mind and continue to Smile at the Storm.