Last Wednesday morning it rained in Atlanta, heavy at times.  Not an icy cold rain like we would have this time of year in Chicago.  The rain seemed to feel and smell like spring is on the way.  It felt good.

The painting crew of Indiana Wesleyan students was dodging drops as they assessed what to do next.  They had been painting staircases all week in an apartment building near the Atlanta Kroc Center.  For several years the apartments have become a focus for Experience Mission teams working with the Salvation Army in the neighborhood. 

Residents have been asked what could be done to help them.  One of the ideas is fresh paint.  Paint goes on.  Relationships are deepened with residents.  The owner treats students to lunch.  Does this help the community?  Yes.  Will it benefit the Army?  Hard to say.

Is the Army’s mission to benefit the Army?  Or to meet human needs? 

Do we have difficulty distinguishing mission?  At times.  We struggle to be free with releasing resources of manpower, time and money.  We worry too much and come close to being ungenerous.  Prudence and wisdom, who can argue.  But parsimony and fear are just so close that at times we err, not going and giving as we ought.

Here’s the thing.  College students during their spring break.  Pay with their own money.  To sleep on the floor of a corps building.  So they can paint someone else’s building, play with and teach other people’s children, visit the elderly parents in nursing homes of men and women they will never meet, stock shelves in the food bank for families they will never see. 

What’s wrong with these college kids?

This thing is mission.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only son … God sent his son into the world (John 3:16-17).  Mission is simply going and giving in the name of Jesus.  When we give and go we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It may also make words credible. 

     I by my works will show you my faith …  James 2:18

                     It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching …  St Francis of Assisi