Hippos, White People, and Cash

Two and a half years ago I was in India with my friend, Andy. Andy swore he’d never go on a mission trip. Especially to India. But he stepped out in faith and went anyway.

So here we are 2 1/2 years later and guess what? Andy’s back in India. But this isn’t just his second trip back. It’s probably his 5th or 6th trip. And further more, the guy who said he wouldn’t ever go on a mission trip just joined our staff as the “Director of Global Good”. Now he’s not only going on mission trips, but he’s actually in charge of them.

I love that God is in the business of interrupting peoples’ plans. John Ortberg once said, “There’s not a single story in the Bible which begins…and some human being had a great plan”. Because the Bible, like life itself, is not about my plans or your plans.

Don’t you just love the unpredictable nature of God? So in honor of the curve ball God has thrown Andy, and the curve ball he’ll likely throw you in the next few days, here’s a guest post that I asked Andy to write on his first mission trip with us. Looking back at this post I can see how God was already working on him in that moment.

 This is the first time I’ve ever been on an international missions trip. I’ve never had interest in traveling. It’s not so much that I didn’t want to go other places. I just didn’t want to leave home. Which sounds lame and unadventurous. But I try about every new item Taco Bell puts on their menu, so I’m not totally boring. What a mistake I’ve made in not traveling. Here are some things I love about India…

1.In the United States, driving is boring. There are a million rules and laws. In India, cars, bikes, motorbikes, rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, cows, dogs, and people all share the same space. There’s one law – don’t crash. Traffic lanes are suggestions. Turn signals non-existent. Cars drive inches apart from each other. Traffic accidents seem inevitable but they almost never happen. You’re more likely to have an accident in your pants than see one on the road.

2. Some days my hair smells a little like potatoes. But I thought about it and it’s cool. Who dislikes potatoes? French fries, crinkle cut fries, waffle fries, sweet potato fries, curly fries, Julienne fries, all-natural Idaho white hash brown fries. It’s like having a potato buffet on your head!! Props to anyone feeling the Best in Show reference.

3. Indians each have a personal radar system called CaucasianNet. No matter where we go, of the thousands of people in the streets, we’re gawked at. When we went to the Kolkata zoo, we became a featured attraction as people posed for pictures with us. Pete said Indians in the zoo that day got 2-for-1 admission: hippos and white people.

4. India has outrageously cheap goods. We spend as much on a pair of jeans as an Indian family of four would spend to replace their entire wardrobe. A liter of water is 40 cents. Rent for a nice-sized home is about $1,200. Per year.

5. Americans bring hand wipes to a land where people wipe with their hands. (For those not catching my drift, Indians don’t use toilet paper).

Put it together and you have a land of real life Indiana Jones adventure. Except the quest isn’t to find a Holy Grail or collect awesome stones – it’s to deliver them. People where we’ve been aren’t cynical about the gospel like many in America. Tract distribution is clutch because information here is scarce. People just don’t know about Jesus or the kingdom. They flock when we come to their village, hang with us, play games with us. We listen to them. They listen to us. They might listen because we’re affluent or because we’re white. But it doesn’t matter. They’re open to hearing about the kingdom!

The Parable of the Talents makes it simple. We’re all given things we must manage. And we’ll be evaluated on how we used those things. I’ve never understood the extent to which my whiteness and affluence are “resources” God has given me to use for Him.

I stepped off the plane in Kolkata with my fears, apprehensions, and a couple bags of candy. I’ll be leaving with a completely new understanding of Jesus, the kingdom, and His love for all people. If you’ve never been on a missions trip, you must go. You have to. Leave all the theological musings of missiology behind. Stop the worrying. You’ll go to the bathroom and sleep just fine. The food will be fine. Listen to Jesus’ two letters. Go. Use your whiteness. Use your money. You can’t invest or spend it when you’re gone. There are people in a small village somewhere in the world ready to become citizens of the kingdom. They’re waiting to meet you. And their Savior. Go.

3 Responses to “Hippos, White People, and Cash”

  1. Mike in Milwaukee says:

    Pete,

    Love Andy’s post!

    Thanks too for your intro… especially:

    “There’s not a single story in the Bible which begins…and some human being had a great plan”

    :-)

  2. Lorrie says:

    I love that though Andy never wanted to go on a mission trip, he sure does now. I love that God has a sense of humor and sends us to the places we never dreamed of going. I love that Andy is in charge of global missions. Love his heart and passion! God is good.

  3. Eileen says:

    I love this! Yes, I love how God continually interprets our plans for His better plans! I loved Andy’s discoveries. It took me back to the first time I went to the DR for a mission’s trip…especially the driving and no traffic rules. Riding around the streets was like being in the car with a stunt driver! Cool and scary all the same time. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed my trip down memory lane.

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