(written by Pastor Doug Sandy)

“you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

Jigsaw puzzles are one of those things that people seem to either love or hate.  For some there is the thrill of connecting pieces, one by one, until the last one falls into place.  For others, it feels like mindless tedium, staring at endless tiny bits of cardboard.  I admit that I fall into the first camp more than the second, but there have been some puzzles that really tested my resolve.  In the end, even the hardest ones have gotten finished with perseverance and teamwork from other puzzlers.

So why am I talking about jigsaw puzzles in a blog for missions trips?  Good question.  The reason is that I see a strong similarity between mission trip planning and jigsaw puzzle building.  Let me try to explain.

Every puzzle I have worked on progresses in phases.  At the beginning, you only have a vague idea of what the puzzle should look like when it is done (we don’t look at the picture on the box in my house), you are not familiar with the shapes or colors on the pieces, and everything is jumbled in a disorganized mess.  But you are confident that somehow, everything will come together in the end.  In the same way, when we began planning for the “Part of the Plan” summer camp back in January, the only thing we knew for certain was the church we would be working with and the location of the camp.  We move forward trusting that God sees the big picture even though we don’t.

Next, I work on the edges of the puzzle.  This helps structure the rest of my puzzle building and gives me a vague idea of what colors might go where.  This phase is similar to selecting our mission team members (which happened in April of this year).  Knowing the people that will be serving on the team helps provide an overall shape of the plan.  We started to understand each other’s gifts and how we can work together better.  The overall outline of the trip begins to take shape.

Once the general form of the jigsaw puzzle is known, we typically sort pieces into piles by color and texture and try to start piecing them together as best we can.  In this phase, we really get to know the pieces well and begin to see how they connect together.  In the same way, the mission team has been meeting together regularly since April.  We have been getting to know each other, and how we can work together to effectively serve Jesus.

The last phase of puzzle making is perhaps my favorite.  Most of the puzzle is already completed and there is a mad dash as each of the puzzlers work together to place the final pieces.  With each piece falling into place, the final image gets clearer and clearer.  This is the phase that we are in right now for the mission trip.  Most of the big pieces have fallen into place.  The Family Bible Church team is in the final stage of preparation.  The supplies have been purchased and are mostly packed.  We seem mostly ready, but still there remain several pieces that we are trying to get in place.  The “puzzlers” come from three, churches (two in America, one in Czechia) as well as our missions sending organization (Josiah Venture).  We are all working frantically to coordinate the completion of the last several pieces.

Unlike jigsaw puzzles, I recognize that it is God who is pulling the pieces together.  As we are working on these last few items, we look to Him to help us.  I don’t believe the final pieces will fall into place until the time of camp itself.  But as each piece falls into place, I look more and more forward to seeing the full picture, full of God’s grace, when we are done.

Prayer Requests and Praises:

  • Health of the entire mission team (Czech and Americans).
  • Coordination of final details between Czechs and Americans.
  • Safe Travel as we leave for Czechia next week!
  • Praise: Supplies for the camp have almost completely arrived.
  • Praise: The camp is now full.
  • Praise: God has been faithful, Family Bible Church mission team is fully funded.