One Ministry, One Church, One Message Worldwide
*This article is a continuation of our interview with Mari Sawyer, Volunteer Director of the Creflo Dollar Global Missions (CDGM) team. To catch up on what Global Missions does, read our August article, A Heart to Serve, HERE.
“I have personally done some work in Thailand and Myanmar, but the team has traveled to South Africa, Kenya, and Canada to do missions work, as well,” said Mari. Creflo Dollar Global Missions helps to make a difference in multiple spheres around the world. They have worked with women victimized by gender-based violence or sex trafficking, and those leaving abusive situations in Australia and Thailand; they have also teamed up with orphanages and justice systems. One thing of note is the outreach of ministering to men to help them develop a more biblical understanding of family and familial relationships. Certain things might be common culturally, but are not precisely aligned with the heart of God. Pastor Archie Collins, Global Missions Director, has proven to be a great resource in providing biblical wisdom while remaining culturally sensitive.
Before leaving on international missions trips, the Global Missions team prepares by making the effort to understand the general climate of the country and their socially acceptable norms, as well as anticipate any potential language barriers. They attempt to discover in advance what words or deeds could be misperceived and what would be considered offensive. Upon their arrival, sometimes they have learned of cultural differences they hadn’t anticipated. These differences highlight the privilege of education on simple life matters that we take for granted. On one missions trip, the team ended up talking to women young and old about feminine hygiene, menstrual care, and birth control. “We take for granted that knowing these things is completely normal,” Mari said. “We know these things ‘automatically’—you learn it in school even if your parents don’t teach you. In some countries, education is not a guarantee and what we consider ‘common knowledge’ isn’t widespread. Education is a gift because most families cannot financially afford it.”
When we asked Mari about the most memorable moments of her trips with CDGM, she had quite a story to tell. A catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. From cash donations to nails, our volunteers availed themselves of the opportunity to serve—to help construct an orphanage and build temporary shelter, amongst other projects, in Haiti.
“Several kids helped dig holes that needed to be really deep. Because there was no machinery to use, the kids decided to get buckets and jump in to start taking dirt out,” said Mari. While there, CDGM volunteers exchanged names with the children and engaged with them. Fast forward five years, Mari returned to the same camp to find a new group of people. The campus was now filled with gardens as the temporary shelters had been converted into semi-permanent housing. As she was getting out of the van, one of the kids from the area walked up to her and said, “Hi, Mari!” He was one of the boys who had jumped in a hole to dig out dirt back in 2010.
“The fact that, as soon as we got off that van, he was able to recognize me was mind-blowing for several reasons,” Mari said. “First, I thought the interaction wasn’t that significant because we didn’t talk a lot to each other. For me, it was brief, but it was something that had stuck out for him. And all those years later, he came to greet me. I cried at that moment because it hit me that we’re touching people’s lives—aside from all the planning, logistics, travel, the immunizations, making sure everybody’s on time and didn’t lose their passport, finding out who didn’t bring their inhaler, who doesn’t eat what, or who’s allergic to what. Aside from all of that, we’re making a mark in their lives that can never be erased. Even if we don’t remember it, they do. It just was a real grounding moment for me to realize that what we do on behalf of Christ and our church has an internal and external impact.”