In 1976 tremors devastated the highlands of Guatemala. Thousands of people were killed, and tens of thousands were left homeless.
A philanthropist offered to sponsor a relief team from our college. This flyer was posted in our dormitory: "Needed: students willing to use their spring break to build cinder-block homes in Quetzaltenango."
I applied, was accepted, and began attending the orientation sessions.
There were twelve of us in all. Mostly ministry students. All of us, it seemed, loved to discuss theology. We were young enough in our faith to believe we knew all the answers. This made for lively discussions. We bantered about a covey of controversies. I can't remember the list. It likely included the usual suspects of charismatic gifts, end times, worship styles, and church strategy.
By the time we reached Guatemala, we'd covered the controversies and revealed our true colors. I'd discerned the faithful from the infidels, the healthy from the heretics. I knew who was in and who was out.
But all of that was soon forgotten. The destruction from the earthquake dwarfed our differences. Entire villages had been leveled. Children were wandering through rubble. Long lines of wounded people awaited medical attention. Our opinions seemed suddenly petty. The disaster demanded team-work. The challenge created a team.
The task turned rivals into partners. I remember one fellow in particular. He and I had distinctly different opinions regarding the styles of worship music. I—the open-minded, relevant thinker favored contemporary, upbeat music. He—the stodgy, close-minded caveman—preferred hymns and hymnals.
Yet when stacking bricks for houses, guess who worked shoulder to shoulder? As we did, we began to sing together. We sang old songs and new, slow and fast. Only later did the irony of it dawn on me. Our common concern gave us a common song.
Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010, 43-44.
Oh to Hear a Human Voice, SFS, 10 October 2010.
Max Lucado Realizes What One Meal Can Do, SFS, 9 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Encountered Mother Teresa, SFS, 8 October 2010.
When Max Lucado Forgot the Bread, SFS, 8 October 2010.
Finding Father Benjamin: A Fable by Max Lucado, SFS, 5 October 2010.
Becoming More Ourselves, SFS, 16 January 2007.
Learning to Listen, SFS, 10 September 2006.
Geoff Pound’s new book on gratitude is described at this link: Talk About Thanksgiving.