During Kingdom Week 2015, I went a second time to do mission work in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. I was blessed to be able to return this year. Like last year, we did a lot of painting. We painted and painted and painted. We painted walls, bathrooms, and bedrooms. And we even painted trees. We literally painted every single tree at the school. In Piedras Negras, and other places, people paint the bottom four feet of tree trunks with a white lime paint. The locals said that it “protects the trees from insects.” It seemed so ridiculous, but we proceeded to paint every tree anyway.
When we finished we were told that all of the trees needed a second coat. So we painted a few hundred trees with another coat of lime paint. As we coated the bark with the lime paint, some of the students at the Mexican Bible College talked with us. They were the type of Christ followers that sacrifice everything for God. Many of them faced ridicule and mockery for going to a Bible college, others gave up every dollar they made in order to support pastors they knew. These were hardworking, young adults with generous and loving hearts. They exemplified Jesus and lived to make him known. They live to serve Christ through serving others.
In addition to their schoolwork, they have to do different jobs and tasks around the campus every week. We asked if painting trees was on their list of chores, but received a chuckle: “the trees only get painted when you guys come!”
If this is something that they don’t even normally do, then why are we even doing it?
That thought crossed my mind, and I was immediately reminded by something God had taught me the previous year through the monotony of seemingly meaningless painting in Mexico.
We are painting and doing these jobs so that the students and staff that live and go to school here in Mexico don’t have to do these jobs. We do them so that they can better minister to people that speak their language, so that they can study, so that they can become better equipped. We are here, serving them, so that they can better serve others.
I will gladly paint trees if it means that a student at Colegio Biblico doesn’t have to paint a tree. I’ll paint trees, or do any other odd job that the Lord would have me do, to bring him Glory and for His Kingdom. We aren’t here to serve ourselves, we are here to serve others. Just as “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28).
Reed Barron is a junior majoring in practical ministries at Dallas Christian College.