mangoes and missions
by Eddie Bowerman
Find out more about Free Will Baptist International Missions at www.fwbgo.com.
One of the things you notice as you enter the seminary property is the large population of mango trees nestled by the buildings throughout the campus. They are enormous and, at this time of year, filled with wonderful tasting mangos. Unfortunately, a large part of those end up on the ground as the mangos ripen and drop from the tree.
When we first arrived on the Panama Free Will Baptist Seminary campus, our children began to investigate the property and immediately found mangos covering the ground. Many people told us we should pitch the mangos into a ditch and forget about them. They pointed to the bruises and said they were not worth saving. However, the children had a different idea.
Every day they go mango hunting. Grabbing plastic containers, they collect all the fallen mangos. Some are bad. Some are in good condition. Most are bruised and beaten but salvageable. It is a lot of work and must be done several times a day. Some ask, “Why bother?” Others might question if so much work is really worth the small amount of fruit collected. My children have the answer to that question: it depends on how much you love mangos!
Missions is like mango hunting. We go out and share the gospel. We invest our time and energy and money into helping rescue some of the bruised and beaten—trying to help salvage lives and hearts for Christ. It is not an easy task and requires us to keep at it every day—hoping to make a difference. We could ignore them, but then all that fruit would just rot there on the ground.
Matthew reminds us that Christ was a mango hunter when he quotes Isaiah and says Jesus will not break a bruised reed, or put out a smoldering wick, until He brings justice to victory and the nations hope in His name (Matthew 12:20-21). In other words, His goal was to rescue the fallen, bruised, and broken—just like any good mango hunter.
I like that these verses talk about the nations who will hope in His name. I can’t help but believe that hope finds its roots in those acts of kindness and compassion that show a lost and dying world—a world full of fallen mangos—they are worth something in Christ. Acts demonstrating He has come to heal and not break; to revive, not put out. Compassion proving Christ still remembers them when the world wants to pitch them into a ditch and forget about them.
People today may ask, “Why bother?” Others may question if so much work, money, and effort is really worth the small amount of fruit collected each day. Those questions seem to have less to do with the mangos than the mango hunter. Perhaps the best answer to questions like these is: how much do you love people?
About the Writer: Eddie and LaRhonda Bowerman have served in a variety of
ministries in Panama since 1995. This article was written not long after they
arrived in Chame in the fall of 2007. The Bowermans returned to the States
January 12, to address Eddie’s health concerns. For more information on the
Bowermans and their ministry visit www.fwbgo.com.