Every once in a while, I get asked if short-term ministry makes any real difference in the lives of those we serve.
The answer usually is that it depends.
Certainly it can if you are part of a team that brings some significant improvement to a family, church, or area.
But those are the big obvious examples.
Far more times we are never going to see how our work impacts those in other countries when we go to serve.
Today however was different.
I was next door to a church we helped build in San Baltazar, Oaxaca, talking to the Jaime and his family as they were working in their trade, making shawls. When it was time to leave, Jaime’s wife Marta invited me into the house to talk and have a cup of avena.
As I walked in the door, I saw it. A picture I have seen a million times on my computer. It is one I have used on the Adventures in Life Ministry web site. It was a picture of my friend Doug and the new friend he made in Oaxaca, Julian, Jaime’s dad.
Everyone in the family remembered Doug and the day that photo was taken. I listened as they shared about their dad helping us build the church next door and his work with us alongside Doug in Tlacolula.
One of the ministries we have partnered with is MISSION Focused. When we are on mission in Mexico, Brother Joe Ramirez and his team come with us to take photos.
Now I’ll be honest, sometimes I wonder if we need to take a million photos of us working. But we are not the only people Brother Joe and his team are photographing while they are in Mexico.
Every ministry site we are on in Oaxaca, anyone in the village can come and get photos of their families, kids, their home, or whatever.
For many, it may be the first color picture they have ever seen of themselves, or their families. For most, it is the first tangible expression of God’s love they have ever received from the church.
Today when we finished talking next door with Jaime and his wife Marta, they asked if we could come back later and take some photos of his new son.
It is amazing to see what something as seemingly simple as a photograph can mean to a person, or a family.
Every day people around the globe are serving in short-term mission taking pictures. And every day, for the most part, those people will go home with their photos, forever missing a chance to leave a lasting impact with those whom they are serving.
It is good to know that when we leave this week, alongside the photo of Doug and Julian, there will also be photos of Jaime’s and Marta’s baby boy.
And it is even better to know that the ministry of MISSION Focused is helping Adventures in Life Ministry and churches in places like San Baltazar Guelavila and San Felipe Guila build bridges into their communities for Jesus through the power of photography.