We were on a project in Matamoros nine years ago. I’ll never forget the impact it made on my 12-year old boy to see Mexican kids who hadn’t eaten in a day or two. They were hungry, while he had already eaten breakfast and had a couple of sandwiches ready for lunch. He gave the sandwiches away and it made a real impact on him.
Afterwards, our debrief was short and sweet – I asked: “Seth, how do you think that boy feels wondering if he’s going to eat anything when he wakes up?” And then we talked about it. I care about the poor and wanted my boy to care.
Two years ago, the same scenario recurred for Seth jr. in Swaziland with a young orphan named Sunrise. Having lost his parents, Sunrise confided,
“I’m so hungry – there is never enough food at home.
And I have no friends. Whenever I’ve had friends, they’ve hurt me; so I’ve learned not to trust anyone.” Seth jr. knew what to do – he’d been ministering all his life. He reached out in compassion to Sunrise.
By exposing him to tough situations and then debriefing, Seth jr. had come to his own conclusions about that aspect of his faith. That’s the point of debriefing. I could do a hundred Bible studies on responding with compassion to the poor that wouldn’t have the impact of that one encounter in Matamoros nine years ago. Because he made sense of the experience through our debrief, it shaped his worldview and his faith.
This summer, Seth had a number of options. He felt God leading him to work in a camp for inner city youth. As parents and disciplers, Karen and I have seen the power of experience coupled with honest debriefs.
Next blog: Different ways to debrief