What is it that bonds people together? Is it their genes? Their interests? A similar faith? The answer to all of those questions may be yes, but a stronger bond is forged by sharing uncommon experiences.
The best example of this strong bond is in the concept of a “band of brothers.” This phrase evokes an image of a group of fighting men facing danger and death together bringing them as close, if not closer, than having a blood tie. Anyone who has viewed a war movie has certainly seen this concept brought to life. The plot will involve some military unit composed of individuals from vastly different backgrounds and locations; however, a unique and strong bond is forged among them because of their experiences together. They may have known each other for only a short time, but they are willing to give their lives for one another.
This bond between fighting men is not a new concept devised to up the drama in a war movie. The concept has been around for hundreds of years. Shakespeare referenced it in “Henry V” which contains the lines:
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother….”
Never having been a military member in a battle situation, I just could not grasp the depth and strength that a band of brothers has. There was no doubt from watching or reading about a wartime group that such a bond exists, but I simply did not comprehend just what the bond was. It took a personal battle to show me what such a bond is and how it was formed.
No, I didn’t join the military or participate in any armed conflict. Instead I went to a different continent on a ten day trip with a mission team from my church. How in the world, you are thinking, does that compare to participating in a real life military battle? Strangely enough, although the settings are entirely different, the resulting bond between team members would qualify us to be called a “band of brothers and sisters.”
What brings people together is facing difficult and out of the ordinary situations. Those situations are etched in our brains and our hearts along with the people with whom we shared them. There is no denying that going to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, where you are asked to do things out of your comfort zone, where you are faced with pushing beyond your limits, and where you have to match your walk with your talk is just such a situation. You can’t get out of the situation; you have no choice but to get into it, and you do so with your team by your side.
In November of 2016 I traveled with ten other people on a mission trip to the heart of Ecuador. I had never met most of our group until we were preparing for the trip. Our team members were of varying ages, backgrounds, occupations and personalities. But our profiles and our past were not what led us to bond together, and they certainly did not keep us apart.
Being in the middle of nowhere in the center of Ecuador in the foothills of the Andes, we were thrust into situations that made us uncomfortable, i.e., standing up in front of a group of strangers and baring our souls about past hurts, being required to communicate with people who did not speak our language, participating in physical activities that literally scared us, putting into action what our faith really means, etc. Team members were asked to push themselves beyond their limits (or at least what we thought were our limits) to accomplish something positive for the good of others. The battles were real, but they were not necessarily external.
In actuality, the battles we fought were with ourselves. We had to fight against our fears, self-doubts, pride, and selfishness. And we had loving, caring team members alongside to see us through it. No blood was shed (although a knee was messed up, a back was hurt and a voice was lost), but we did give it our all to share the news about Jesus shedding His blood.
Our team has returned from the trip, but we did not leave our love for each other and the bond we had forged at the airport. Even though we do not all live close geographically, we are still close emotionally. We are still there for each other even if it is not in person. What’s App allows us to instantly communicate to share our needs, triumphs, emotions, etc. We are still, and always will be, a team–a band of brothers and sisters.