Thursday, April 1, 2010

Above and beyond...lessons in sharing & comfort zones.

Three years ago, I was invited to be a part of the first student-led international Prison Fellowship missions' trip. We would be spending two weeks working alongside of inmates in several prisons in and around the region of San Jose, Costa Rica.

"That sounds amazing." (first thought)
"Way out of my price range." (second thought)

$1600. For everything included in that price, the deal was not so shabby. For my rational, disbelieving mind, the idea was outrageous. Me? Asking people for money? No way. That concept was nowhere near the vicinity of my comfort zone. I hated "bothering" people for their resources and I have always held strong tendencies towards inefficient (more so than not) stubbornness, independence, and pride.

To make a long story shorter, I decided to write support letters for the first time in my life. I had been asked to join a number of teams for out-of-country trips, but this was the first that I really felt a strong pull towards. A good friend of mine had given me $200 towards it because they "really believed in me and what was going on in my life." Awesome. What's even more awesome? The campus ministries department of Gardner-Webb University had a missions' fund set up for a student interested in summer missions. And, with it being dangerously close to the end of the spring semester, it amazingly had not been used by anyone yet. I, for whatever reason, told them the wrong amount needed, so they wrote me a check for $1400. But wait. I already had $200 towards the trip. Perfect.

That story is a strong marker in my life. I get so caught up in financial issues much too often (and I don't think I am alone in this) - to the point that I lose that familiar faith and trust that I always come back to when all my other flailings fail me. And where does excessive worrying ever get me? I can tell you that - a snappy attitude, in tears, and usually catching a cold because of all the sleep I lose. Tell me that result isn't sooo appealing to you.

Like I previously mentioned, that story is a strong point of reference for me. When I decided to go to India, I felt that familiar stress make its' way towards me again: "Where would the money come from? Am I just another person looking for others to pay for my world travel? I just quit my job - how will this scheduling work out?" I lived in these questions and concerns for a couple of weeks before I came to the realization that I didn't have to fall to that same dead-ending pattern I so naturally gravitate towards. I could actually choose to be obedient and trusting instead.

That choice works. This time around, the process has been much less stressful. I have had a few days of frustration here and there, but the majority of these past couple of months have found me resting in a deep-rooted peace. Why am I going and what do I hope to accomplish once there? I don't know. And that's okay. I know that I am serving alongside of brothers and sisters in need of encouragement and fellow willing hearts. I know that this deep-rooted peace resides in me to serve as an affirmation to my travels in the next couple of weeks.

Now to the most important part of this post: my humble thanks to everyone that has supported through finances, verbal encouragement, listening ears, prayers, thoughts, and letters. I am deeply moved by the selflessness I have seen in others. Taking a moment out of one's day to give thought to someone else and how they can be used to be a part of that person's life is a virtue that has not gone unnoticed.

Thank you.



  1. ED, I am so excited you're coming. It's awesome that you were able to follow the path of trust and obedience, and that God has proven faithful again. See you in Delhi!

  2. Godspeed Erin Dalton. I'm praying with whatever is left of my faith that you have a safe, fun, fruitful and enriching journey. With that said, I must say that I don't really believe in going into someone else's land, with a culture older than the Bible, and a religious and spiritual tradition that has endured, and has inspired billions, some say including Jesus Christ our Saviour Himself, and attempting to convert people to our faith. I'm not assuming this is what your going to do...just saying.

    My vision of the most effective Christian missionary is to simply identify yourself as a Christian, not even bringing the subject up again while you go about setting an example with good works from a place of love and humility.

    I know many including yourself may strongly disagree with this attitude. However, I am still searching. I'm infinitely fallible. And give my opinion above in spirit of open mindedness and a willingness toward Communion with any and everyone no matter their belief system.

    [ Geez, that was a lot of writing. It's a little embarrassing that I barely know you, but I do identify with you strongly. You remind me a lot of old friends long gone. And, nostalgia is a huge weakness of mine. ]

  3. i always appreciate honesty, allen...there are many beautiful and enriching aspects of every religion and culture that i believe are worth finding...and i believe that respect and deep appreciation are at the core of finding this beauty...

    i also believe that the love that has been placed inside of me is given by my Creator and that it is too great to be kept inside of me...i find myself seeking ways to convey that love in whatever location/situation/opportunity i am in, whether it be through music, a listening ear, an extra hand, sharing of spiritual experiences, etc.

    it's good to hear your thoughts, friend...