Some people have questioned why our main goal is not to evangelize the Lakota people. Others have questioned why we don't focus more on charity.
Building relationships doesn't seem like a very lofty goal for a "mission trip", and yet I am more and more convinced that building relationships is the most holy goal we can have.
As much as I want to see people come to Christ, and as much as I love doing acts of charity such as giving away backpacks and school supplies, blankets , baby items, and personal care items, I never want these trips to become focused on either of those goals over and above that of building relationships. Building relationships must come first.
Because we can talk about charity and "witnessing" as much as we want and some people will do it for a variety of reasons while others will make excuses to justify why they won't. But if we love people, we will not allow them to be in need. We will do what it takes to take care of them - not because someone told us to, not even because the Bible tells us to, but because we love them. If we love people, we will want them to know Jesus. Love must come first and love becomes more "real" when we know people through relationship building.
Without love (relationship), our witnessing will be shallow and maybe even offensive. Without relationship our giving will be merely another mission project and the people will know it.
When we love, all the other things will come naturally as a result of that love.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but
have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Cor. 13:3
“It’s a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer just a missions
project but become genuine friends and family with who we laugh, cry, dream, and
struggle” - Shane Claiborne
Love God. Love People. Nothing Else Matters.