Dirt. Light brown dirt everywhere, but not enough of it.
When I was in Cambodia earlier this year, I noticed a common theme in their construction. Everything was built on top of dirt. The roads were dirt, or pavement laid on top of the dirt. Houses and businesses were built on dirt. I saw what looked to me like a commercial building being built as we drove down the freeway, and it was being built on top of a big, level pile of fresh dirt. This was everywhere. But what was also interesting to me was that the dirt wasn’t there to begin with. It was brought in from somewhere else. Apparently a lot of it comes from just across the border in Vietnam.
I was on the mission field with Q Missions. We were supporting local missionaries Tim and Mel who run The Children at Risk Project. The plan was to build a house and a playground structure on their newly acquired land. The land was just like what we saw in most areas, rice patty fields. There was a dirt road (hauled in from somewhere) leading to their land, with sunken fields on either side. There is a slightly raised walking path that outlines each field. Most of the fields that I could see had cattle grazing on them, or rice growing in them. On the job site, there was a long path of fresh dirt about 20 feet wide and 150 feet long, with a T at the end. Each end of the T had a place to build. The house would go on one end, and the playground would be on the other. The rest of the property was a low land field. The missionaries had paid to have over one hundred truckloads of dirt brought in to build this path. This area would be where the children could play, and the missionaries could live.
When the stormy, rainy season arrives, the rest of the property will fill up with water, and be unusable.
This property will be a hub for the village. A missionary couple will live there. Kids will come from the whole area to enjoy the playground (which unfortunately was held up at the border crossing, and wasn’t released or built until after we had left Cambodia). By the end of the build, there must have been 30-40 kids there, waiting to play with us. I didn’t see another play structure the whole time I was in country. Eventually there will be an educational center built there to train young woman how to cook and sew, with the effort to keep them out of the sex trafficking or predatory garment industries, both being horrible future prospects for them. As you can imagine, considering the size of the property, this didn’t leave much room to work in, live in, or develop for future needs.
This fresh dirt was an important part of what the mission would be doing there. Without it, they could not do the work God has placed before them. Our team saw this need and asked Tim how much it costs to bring that much dirt in? The number was attainable, so we gathered our resources and bought them one hundred more truckloads of dirt to begin filling in the field, and creating usable space for ministry. It was a little surprising to me how important this dirt was. It was vital to their survival and well-being. Without this dirt, nothing could be built here. That’s when I realized, it’s not just dirt; it’s a foundation.
This is a real life illustration of a spiritual principle.
A foundation must be laid before anything can be built on top of it. Psalms 118:22 says, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” This describes the Messiah, Jesus, and is prophecy telling of how people will reject Him. Although people rejected Jesus, he has actually become the “cornerstone”. The cornerstone is the first stone that a builder sets in place when building a structure. It must be level, straight, and perfect, because every stone after it will be leveled to the cornerstone. The entire building will be squared or skewed based on the first stone that was placed when building it. Jesus is the cornerstone of our ministry, our mission, or anything we do in the name of Lord, for the benefit of the Kingdom. He will be the standard by which all of our efforts will be measured. If what you are building is not on the foundation of Jesus, then it will not stand.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, Paul says, “Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expect builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have- Jesus Christ.”
As missionaries in the field, we must build on the foundation that the missionaries who came before, like the Apostle Paul, established for us. We are building a house, or a well, or relationships, but the foundation we are building on must be the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sharing the gospel, showing his love, serving his people. If these things aren’t present in our efforts, then anything we build will not last through the storms of life.
Dirt. I think we could all use a little more of it in our lives.