Many of our friends, both in the UK and America, are aware we are hosting a group of 13 from a supporting church in America. This wonderful collection of people arrives on the 24th of May and remain until the 2nd of June. A lot of work has gone into planning their ten day visit and there is a lot more preparation to do; and then there is still the actual time and events themselves to experience!
One of the interesting aspects of planning and scheduling has been to consider cultural differences and comfort levels. While the dissonance experienced by simply being in a different culture can make one uncomfortable in and of itself, our guests are actually coming to experience discomfort of another kind. What I mean by that is this: while the team wants to contribute and make a difference in some tangible ways they also want to be stretched in expressing their life of following Jesus. This requires training, equipping, and then undertaking tasks which are new, unfamiliar, and previously unlearned.
Not only that, sensitivity and balance in the schedule must be exercised so that there is enough discomfort to bring stress, but not so much as to bring distress or damage. I recall some years ago having a physical trainer explain to me that lifting weights in the right manner with repetitions causes mini-tears in the muscles that the body then restores, growing new muscle mass in the process. Obviously, a regimen customized to each individual will have the most effectiveness. That’s hard to do with a group of thirteen!
The writer of Hebrews noted that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It’s also not possible to grow personally or spiritually without faith that is disciplined and perseveres in difficult or challenging or even ‘uncomfortable’ circumstances. We’re praying that in the few days that our Stateside friends will be with us, they will experience enough discomfort and stress that they more fully and faithfully follow Jesus, but not so much that they remember the experience with us in a negative light.