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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Join hands, disciples of the faith,
Whate’er your race may be.
All children of the living God
Are surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both east and west;
In him meet south and north.
All Christly souls are one in him
throughout the whole wide earth.

     John Oxenham’s “In Christ There Is No East or West”
     from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

As I write this reflection, I am making final preparations for our Senior High work camp. Thirty-two youth and ten adults will travel to the town of Les Cayes on the southern coast of Haiti for a week of service, building benches for a local school and perhaps visiting with children in one of Haiti’s many orphanages.

While I’m sure the service we will provide will help the people of Haiti in some ways, I’m more interested in what our youth and adults will experience on this trip. Even before the devastating earthquake of 2010, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. We will soon find ourselves in a context far removed from our lives in Chicago, yet very close to us in our global neighborhood. In my thirteen years of professional ministry, I have been on mission trips in some of the most poverty-stricken places of the United States, but I know full well that I’ve never seen with my own eyes the kind of conditions that await us in Haiti.

Yet the church in Haiti is thriving, and I anticipate that what we will learn from our Haitian hosts will far outweigh whatever service we provide for them. We often talk about this as “mission in reverse.”

I very much look forward to the ways in which the words of this hymn will come to life for our group in Haiti. As north and south meet in Les Cayes, I pray that we will recognize each other as siblings in Christ and grow together as a demonstration of God’s kingdom breaking into our world.

Thank you, God, for gifting us with siblings around the world in whom we recognize your image and learn more of your love. Help us to come together as the body of Christ and care for each other as one world family. Amen.

Written by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry

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