Insignificant. Small. Don’t know very much. Unworthy. Limited experience.
Great. Mighty. Strong. Big. Exceeding.
The first set of words/phrases is how I heard members of the Bethlehem Baptist team refer to themselves in comparison to the ACTION Zambia missionaries and national workers.
The second set of words is how I would describe the actions of the Bethlehem Baptist team as they humbly, energetically, graciously served the AZ team on our AZ Staff Retreat. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” Matt. 20:26, ESV. They achieved greatness in God’s eyes through a thousand small acts of self-sacrifice under a few big categories.
1. Through the word of Christ and worship. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” Col. 3:16, ESV. Jack Delk (who I – Kristin – have known since I first started going to Bethlehem in 1999) primarily led the teaching time, with Steve Stein bringing up the rear with a slam-bang finish. A few highlights of this time for me, personally, were…
- worshiping with our team (led by Tyler Stitt, who did a great job!),
- sharing with each other what the main burden is that we each carry these days,
- being reminded of what the gospel is,
- assessing the motivation behind why we do what we do,
- looking at the incredible bigness and power and sovereignty of our God in the universe and then applying his specific and good love to each of us.
2. Through trusted childcare. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me” Matt. 18:5, ESV. “Train up a child in the way he should go” Prov. 22:6, ESV. Liz Stein and crew provided times for the missionary kids to learn about God’s care for them through his promises to them. I know that Liz put plenty of time and thought into addressing the felt needs of each child there, and God honored that! When I told Charlie that the retreat was over and it was time to go home, he cried and said, “No, I just want to stay here forever!” One of our teammate’s children said, “It’s like Miss Liz knows what missionary kids are like!”
And not only was there structured teaching/activity time for the kids so that the parents could participate in adult teaching without distraction, there was free babysitting during the down time! Charlie especially adored Auntie Sheryl and Uncle Tyler, who walked with him and played with him and listened attentively to his endless observations. Sam loved the independence of being able to wander wherever his little legs would take him with the comfort of knowing someone was right there in case he needed help.
3. Through gifts. The entire retreat was paid for by the Bethlehem team. This included delicious meals and snacks, comfortable accommodations, fireside chats, lots of fun activities – swimming (brrr!), billiards, safaris, cheese tasting tours, boating, and fishing – and then giving each of us a stack of fresh reading material to build up our souls.
4. Through questions and prayers. It was apparent that the Bethlehem team sought out not just practical ways to bless and serve the AZ team, but they took advantage of moments to talk, listen, understand our lives, and then pray. They were moments of total giving – not seeking to be heard or having a platform to talk, just asking and listening and affirming and caring. They were sweet and life-giving.
Thank you, BBC (Steve, Liz, Jack, Tyler, Laurie, Sheryl, Monica, Lydia, Kate, and Kate!!!!), for giving, serving, teaching, and investing in us!! You loved us well.