I am returning from a very positive trip to Mexico thanks to the efforts of two of our sponsors, Cesar and Gibran. They both worked very hard to set up interviews with potential staff and meetings with students and teachers at a large school in Puelba. We might experience our best year of Mexican campers yet — despite the attempt to build a wall. We succeed in our marketing because of the efforts of folks like our Mexican sponsors.
I interviewed over 30 staff while there, and I was surprised that each of them had the same response when I asked them, “What would you like to change about Mexico?” In unison, each one told me that the Mexican people were, in general, corrupt and selfish. Now, let me state that the Mexicans I know and work with — my friends — are neither corrupt nor selfish. But as I considered the government, culture, and history of Mexico I can clearly see why they would say this.
My next question was, “What would you like to change about the USA?”. And again, they all had the same opinion: Americans, in general, are racist and not embracing to foreignors. I am sure that my friends from the USA could point out how generous, kind, welcoming, religious, etc, we are. But the truth is that in the perception of the world, we are jingoistic. Sometimes the truth does not matter as much as the perspective. Regardless of how we feel about ourselves, many others believe we think less or little of them because they are from Africa, Latin America, China, France and so forth. That is very saddening for me, a U.S. citizen. I am proud of my country and I believe we are singularly blessed unlike any other nation on earth. But, “to whom much is given much is expected”. So again I must humble myself and ask God to forgive me for all that I have done to perpetuate this conception while at the same time looking at what I can do to improve these hurt feelings.
And I must say: What a privilege that I am in a place where I can do something! I operate a Christian, international sport camp, deep in the South, that can change the perspective of people from all over the world! How blessed I am to also be connected to a local church, the Pilot Mountain Baptist Church, that enthusiastically receives, welcomes, nurtures, feeds, shares with, and encourages children from all over the world! We have become their mission field!
Nothing brings about better understanding and a greater appreciation for another person, culture, or nation than humility and kindness from the hosts. Pray that our USA staff, campers, and volunteers might display the very humbleness of Jesus Christ and the unspeakable kindness of the Father as our gates open May 28. We are uniquely able to dispel misunderstanding and apprehension by the manner in which we allow Him to shine through us in just eight weeks.
Shine, Jesus shine!