By CHRIS BATES
On a trip several years ago, we got to spend more than a week near San Cristobal, Nicaragua, digging ditches and working on other projects. My daughter and I met the rest of the team once we arrived in country. We anticipated that it would be a trip filled with adventure and opportunity — but had no idea of the real lessons that were before us.
Many of the villages in the area were without a reliable drinking water source. Our team joined up with locals who already had the pathways and processes laid out for the projects. These combined-effort working groups now had laborers, plumbers and project leaders, equipment carriers and support participants providing water and food for everyone. In total, we dug over five miles of pipe trenches connecting wells with junction points near homes throughout the village area. Without enough hands operating alongside the experienced locals, the projects could not have happened successfully.
Throughout the days there, we spent time in the homes of some amazing families. They let us learn alongside and care for their children and help with building well-vented indoor kitchens. We witnessed how together, as a village, each person had a vital role in daily life. Some provided tortillas and prepared food five days each week, while others farmed or made repairs or taught children. There seemed to be a well-respected system where each individual used his or her own talents for the greater good and provision for the families nearby. We saw the lesson in there being shared work and support for one another so that others could thrive.
The parts that we can play in our lives as believers are much the same. We are not expected to all have the same talents or contributions. In fact, our roles sometimes are not what we would have thought they would be, and most assuredly they will change in different seasons of life. They can also change in response to life’s challenges or experiences. The storyline holds true, though, that we each need others.
Recovery from addiction is much the same, as I have witnessed it. It is not done successfully in solitude, and the experience of others who have been through the same pain can provide the solution. Addiction is a disease which requires lasting healing of mind, body and spirit. When one shares their own journey with others and seeks to serve, the giver benefits and the receivers thrive. Max Lucado said, “God is using today’s difficulties to strengthen you for tomorrow. He is equipping you. The God who makes things grow will help you bear fruit.”
The same is true for living out our role against so many other challenges in life. 2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” We each have the ability to help pull someone into the lifeboat, having experienced being lost at sea and rescued ourselves.
When we as villagers each do our part to serve one another, the tide then rises. What is your role? Your own story is infinitely valuable to the next person down the line. God needs every seat filled. Some are healers, some are knitters to clothe, some chefs to feed, mothers to care, or soldiers to march forward. What is your identity within His army?
God can direct us and guide us, sometimes to very profound impacts, some of which we may have no idea about now. The challenge from that to each of us is to Listen, Follow and Serve.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.