Tanzania mission update (December 2017)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus Philippians 2: 3-5 (NIV)

Recently I have returned from a mission trip to Tanzania. I have been traveling to the developing world now for 12 years dating back to my first experience in college as a tropical biology student. The last two years, traveling to Nicaragua and Tanzania, I have witnessed the birth of smartphone technology in the developing world. This has been a very sobering experience for myself as I have witnessed the change in culture and relationships as smartphones have become available for the first time in these countries.

I always longed to travel to these places because people had time for each other, had time for deep relationship building moments, and valued the person at the dinner table or on the street. Now I am seeing change, as people are more drawn to their phones now, and less attentive to quality time together. It seems pretty ironic that a device that is supposed to keep us "connected to the world at all times," actually creates more dis-connect and dependency for most of us. It saddens me, and it also challenges me to think about putting value in the people around me.

Every one of us has family, friends, co-workers, and the random encounters at the supermarket. We need to practice placing value in the people around us as Paul reminds us in this passage. Jesus came to die for people, not for our electronic devices. I'm not saying all of us should go and throw our phones away, (maybe some of us should, who knows), but rather for this Christmas season and really every season for that matter... we should set some boundaries, and intentionally value the people that God has placed in our lives. Jesus loved people, all people, and he wants us to model his love and value for people as well in our daily lives.

- Justin Harris 

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