Just Bring Greetings

By Katie Snipes Lancaster

I recently read about a man named Mark who went on a mission trip to Uganda. He asked his host: what can I bring? And his host replied: just bring greetings. This was a radical reply, Mark thought. Don’t they want me to bring something that can help their community? Don’t they want me to collect supplies? Don’t they know I can bring something of value? (from Short-Term Mission: An Ethnography. By Brian Howell)

Just bring greetings.

This past weekend, 15 students said “yes” to the Kenilworth Union invitation to go on a QUEST mini-mission trip to Chicago. We stayed at the David Darst Center in Bridgeport, and on Friday night our first service opportunity was at a homeless men’s shelter. When we arrived, we met Vince, the men’s shelter director, who was once homeless himself. We asked: what will we be doing? Serving a meal? Working on a special project? Doing something important? But Vince replied: no, just come in and say hello. We all wondered instinctively: isn’t there something we can do? We all came here to work and serve, right?

Just bring greetings.

Being open to the invitation, that’s exactly what we did: we said hello. What change of heart might come when we are not separated by the label of helper and helped? Just bring greetings, we were asked. And in doing so, I suspect, God made room for transformation.