God is always shaping our lives, but we often don’t realize it until years later. My sons were all brought up at Incarnation and exposed early on to God’s grace for people in other countries who did not benefit from the same liberties as us.
My husband, Doug, and I saw on their first trip to Guatemala how our son’s lives were changed. When Brian and Chris came back, they said ‘these kids have nothing and they’re happy; how can that be?
We talked about it as a family, and to my amazement, the boys acknowledged that this experience helped them feel closer to God. They saw how when you have fewer distractions, you can tangibly see and feel God in your life. This was not a lesson I could have taught my Highland Park boys. Looking back, I can see how this planted the seeds of a calling.
Around 2000, the rector announced that Incarnation should start sending adults on international mission trips. With the help of former Peace Corp volunteers, M’Lou and Bill Bancroft, the mission work in Honduras began. I went on those trips in the early days as a volunteer. This was another steppingstone to God’s call for me to lead the mission work at Incarnation.
I had been working at St. Michael’s when one day Father Smith called me to say ‘don’t you think it’s time to come and work at your own church? It is time we got serious about developing a substantial mission and outreach program.’ My work at Incarnation was a real homecoming.
In the coming years, the adult mission work of Incarnation expanded to include domestic disaster relief in the aftermath of tornados in the South and hurricane destruction along the Gulf Coast. In 2006 we added missions to Belize in an effort to expand what we were doing in Honduras.
I used to ache for that sense of accomplishment at the end of each work day—a clean desk and a completed list of tasks. I’ve since learned that God’s call to serve the needs of the poor means our work will never be done.
Every once in a while, someone will ask me why we go so far to serve when the needs are just as great in our own community. I tell them, the people of Belize and Honduras have no safety net. I tell them, it is not a matter of focusing on international versus local outreach. We CAN and MUST do all of the above. I am proud of the work of Church of the Incarnation in the local and global communities–much is expected of those to whom much has been given.
Martha Lang, Executive Director of Mission & Outreach