Mission trip had effect — on me

Published 11:33 pm Friday, July 16, 2010

Prior to last week, the extent of my knowledge of Jamaica was that it had a bobsled team. And John Candy and Doug E. Doug were in a movie about it that was pretty good.

But I figured that was enough knowledge to commit to joining Justin Paschall on the team from the church of Christ at Canal Heights as it looked to make a difference in that part of the world.

Eight days and one pretty severe stomach ailment later, I am not entirely sure how big of a difference I was able to make. I know this whole mission work things in planting and watering and waiting for the increase. And I’m not entirely sure which of those parts I played. But I do know that the trip wound up making a major difference with me.

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Prior to July 4, it had been 10 years since I had left the country and gone into a foreign mission field. That was far too long.

Now it is my hope to return to Jamaica next year and continue the work our American team did last week.

But what was really impactful was the reminder of how different we all are not. We so often classify people by things as frivolous as nationality or ethnicity. But at the core of the message our American team went to deliver is the notion that we are all essentially the same.

Jamaica is different. It has an upper class, albeit a small one. And it certainly has a lower class, one that often sees people living in structures most of us would not use for storage space.

It has no middle class. None at all. Down there, you either have or you have not.

And the separation in class provided an interesting look at the nature of man. The haves were far less apt to listen to anything religious in nature than were the have-nots.

Jamaican police are also different than we have here. It is not very often the Demopolis Police Department will be found brandishing an M-16 to guard a jewelry store. But that is Jamaica.

And in the area we were, Highgate, there is no real separation of neighborhoods. The bottom of the hill is a little poorer and the top is pretty well off. And a handful of people in between smoke some funny smelling cigarettes.

I did not see a bobsled or come across Usain Bolt. But the trip definitely helped me adjust my perspective on the world outside of our borders and reminded me just how vital it is for us to take time to visit such places.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of The Demopolis Times.