Mr. Preston's story caused a number of fathers to tear up. Her ear bleeding, Mr Preston recalled carrying a young Dominican girl from the playground after she had gotten hit. The young girl held him tightly, enough to make it hard to swallow, as Mr. Preston went in search for a bandaid to cover her open wound.
As Gregg Preston recounted the story for the 33 members of the Dominican Mission team he had his hand on his son Gabriel. Uniting the passion he has had to bring each of his children on a mission experience before their 7th grade year, Gregg drew comparisions between his care for the young Domincan girl, his love for his son Gabriel and God's adoration with His son Jesus.
Gregg shared the story as part of the final night debrief session for the Dominican team on Wednesday night. The debrief session conjured many memories from the trip. Some recalled an afternoon share-time at the Sante Fe school, part of which is recorded in the video above. The special session gave a brief history of Hillcrest's partnership with the Christian primary school located in an impoverished neighborhood which formerly employed Hatian workers at a sugar cane plant, now closed and left the neighborhood without work. The Santa Fe school is now serving as a shining light of hope, communicating the Gospel in partnership with Hillcrest.
Some have asked why Hillcrest has made such an overwhelming comitment to short-term missions rather than providing funding to the neighborhoods visited by the Hillcrest Senior class for the past 5 years. The video above is one of many reasons we visit, Mr. Preston's story is another.
In the debrief time Mr. Preston spent 30 minutes communicating his display of love for a small girl, the passionate discipleship of his children and ultimatly drawing reference from the Biblical model of Jesus Christ's "short-term mission".
Some say Jesus conducted the ultimate short-term mission. Never providing complete poverty alleviation on earth; Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, cared for the widow and raised the dead. His parting words to those impacted called for a relationship He desired them to foster with their heavenly Father, encouraging those he met to "go and sin no more." Providing hope and encouragement, Jesus met periodically with individuals on a short-term basis. His mission ultimately served to prepare a group of followers to carry-on His ministry, equipping them to reach the ends of the earth by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The cost for Christ to encourage the disciples was high, demanding temptation, sorrow and asphixiation on a cross in fulfillment of his mission plan. However, His resurrection was the seed bed for a band of 11 to unite with others to change the hearts of the world. This band grew and took-on a life of their own, organizing what would be an army of followers of Jesus who are led by love to build meaningful relationships to communicate a personal God.
This organization changed culture, retaining the message of Jesus which changed the view of the world for many ancient civilizations. Rodney Stark comments on this movement which spans centuries in his award winning book The Triumph of Christianity:
Had there still been only one Christian organization, foreign missions probably never would have begun in the first place, and certainly they would have disappeared in the 1930's. Instead, it was only the liberal Protestant mission effort that ended, as scores of conservative and evangelical Protestant denominations continue to send out huge numbers of missionaries...Christiantity sustains a tradition of innovation and adaptation. Hence locals not only take over missionizing; they often form new denominations especially suited to their particular situations and culture...In the end, Christianity grows, partly because so many Christians work so hard to make it grow.
The work Hillcrest humbly seeks is to prepare students in a Bible-based Christ-centered environment to live a life of significance. We conduct short-term missions partly out of a response of God's love and work on our hearts and partly to fulfill our mission statement around the world.
Students at the Santa Fe school are being equipped to lead a significant life in part through God's work in Hillcrest's relationship. God has enabled Hillcrest to purchase land for the Santa Fe school, purchase classroom resources, repair desks and essentials for classroom instruction, provide funding for a water-proof roof over the main classrooms, provide funding for the first phase of a classroom addition that will enable more students to attend Santa Fe, provide funding for the first phase in an on-site orphanage and begin the first phase in an adult education program that will occur in the evening at the Santa Fe school.
We consider ourselves blessed to have such a meaningful relationship with the Santa Fe school. They have become friends aswell as partners in fulfilling our mission statement. Both schools are blessed as we have been able to witness our students become friends and co-laborers in the Santa Fe community sharing Christ together to reach the lost.