28 Jun How Do I Explain Servant Teams?
Megan Jackson was on the 2015 Servant Team, and was kind enough to share some heartfelt reflections on how the experience shaped her life and ministry journey. Anyone considering joining Servant Teams (or recommending the program to someone else) will not want to miss her story! (Note: Clark Blakeman was the Servant Teams Director for Megan’s team, before he passed away at the end of 2016.)
I’ve sat down to write this blog post several times now, and every time, I freeze. How do I explain Servant Teams? There are so many moments that impacted me, so many people I would not be the same without, and so many lessons learned. Where do I even start? In Portland? East Africa? For inspiration, I started going through my Servant Teams pictures and videos. About 10 minutes in, I found a video of Clark Blakeman, the founder of Servant Teams and a dear mentor, explaining the heart and intention behind the program. It took me back to the beginning. So that’s where we’ll start, with the basics.
Servant Teams is an ever-evolving dream that began with Clark’s passion to teach and equip diverse leaders for a diverse mission field. It’s a program designed to go beyond just the idea that we should love and help the poor. It puts a person to this practice. Loving and helping the poor becomes a way of life and not a scientific formula or checkbox. For me, this means that now, when someone makes a remark about hungry kids in Africa, my mind instantly goes to the incredible kiddos and families I got to play soccer, color pictures, and sing in choir with. The ones who welcomed me into their church
and homes. Those whose generosity and hospitality still leave me speechless. Those who shared everything when they had nothing. Loving and helping the poor now looks like loving and helping my friends and neighbors. The ones who taught me their language and how to do laundry in a bucket. Who taught me new songs and dances and invited me to sit with their family as they talked with God each night.
Putting a person to the idea of helping the poor not only redefined how I saw others, but how I understand God. In our first weeks of Servant Teams, we studied Trinitarian theology, which is based on mutuality. The Trinity, composed of Father, Son, and Spirit, serves as an example of true relationship. No one person is in a position of power all the time. There is a constant shifting of places out of love and deference to one another. When this is the foundation for understanding God, the understanding of people shifts from, “I can help you, because I have this, and you don’t.” Instead it becomes, “I have the knowledge/ability to meet this need of yours, and you have the knowledge/ability to meet this need of mine.” We all have something to bring. No one’s value is tied to how much or how often they bring something to the table.
Continuing in this new understanding of God, we studied the Missio Dei, or Missional God. Clark once said, “God is a pursuer. He is not one to sit back and say, ‘let humanity come to me.’ He is the God who said, ‘I’m going to seek out.’ God wants to rescue. God wants to restore. So he
sent his Son.” John 1:14 says that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus as God incarnate came to live with us and share our pain, sadness, and grief. In his love, he empowers all people to do the same. The Message Bible puts another way: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” This was the essence of Servant Teams. Whether in Portland or abroad, God loves and God pursues. Beautifully, we get to engage in our own suffering and the suffering of those around us as we follow him and move into the neighborhood.
Servant Teams was one of the best and most difficult experiences I have had the honor to be a part of. From Portland to East Africa, the people I encountered challenged the way I view God, others, myself, and our purpose here on earth. If you are considering this program, I want to encourage you: it’s worth it. There are few things in this world that will stretch and grow you more.
by Megan Jackson
Lahash is accepting applications now for our upcoming Servant Teams! Visit the Servant Teams page to learn more.