I hadn’t even scratched the surface on what God meant by serving the least of these. After God’s conviction that I didn’t even know anyone He considered the least, I began searching for local organizations that were truly serving those in need. I happened upon a little blip of a website with the word refugee emblazoned on it. Sure, I watched the news from time to time, but that word didn’t mean much to me until I was sitting on the floor of a dingy, low-income apartment. I exchanged awkward smiles and attempted to ask my new friend questions about her life. As a volunteer with Interfaith Refugee Ministry, I was going to be the mentor to a newly arrived refugee family and welcome them as they started over in our community. This sounded so exciting and out of my comfort zone that I completely missed the fact that I would actually have to interact with a refugee. I didn’t consider the reality that I’d be entering a world completely different from my own:
Uncomfortable. Unpredictable. Messy.
I spent the next year stumbling through building a relationship with a woman my age, whose story was nothing like mine. Escaping intense persecution from Southeast Asia, she and her family were relocated to America through refugee resettlement. She had nothing but a few personal items, I had everything I could ever ask for. Every week I showed up to take her to places that I felt represented “America.” Her English improved and we were able to really share and understand each other’s life. I learned about the horrors she endured and we built a friendship despite all our differences.
As much as I was pouring in to her life, I was receiving back threefold. My heart was changing and I couldn’t go back to where I had been. God kept propelling me forward, finding more ways to get involved, more refugees I could befriend. Eventually, I just couldn’t contain this passion He had inserted into my heart. Only our God can take a white, middle class, stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and turn her world upside down. All I could think about is how to get everyone I knew involved in helping persecuted people rebuild their lives. It started with my own family, watching them fully put their energy in to serving refugees. Then, I started to bring my friends in to this passion by organizing events where they could come serve. God wasn’t only changing my life, but He was working in the lives of those around me.
When we determine what matters to God must matter to us, something happens. Slowly, we begin to open clinched fists holding on to what we believe to be ours and God reveals the cost to truly obey Him and answer His call in serving the least:
1. It costs TIME. When we start doing the things God says, we quickly learn that step one is showing up. There is no way to “virtually” serve people. FaceTime can’t serve a meal to someone who is hungry. We can’t Facebook our way in to a prison to love on people. We have to actually, physically be there. This means, schedules get rearranged. A lot of “no’s” must be said so that I can say “yes” to what matters to God.
2. It costs RELATIONSHIP. God is a relational God and while there are times it’s great to swoop in and do a project for someone in need, He is really calling us to something bigger in terms of our investment. Paul said it best when ministering to the Thessalonians,
“because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
God wants us to put in the relational deposits that will really give us the leverage to ensure that every man, woman and child have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3. It costs COMFORT. It is awkward to try to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language. It can make us feel weird to sit in a home that looks nothing like our own and strike up a conversation with someone, whom on paper, we have very little in common. People’s lives are messy and it can be unnerving to enter in their messes. BUT, the more we are willing to give up our own personal comfort, the more opportunities God presents us with opportunities to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. When we give up our own comfort, we get to be a part of HIS story unfolding before our very eyes in our local and global community.
It is hard to let go of our time, relationship, and comfort. We can all convince ourselves that staying within our church walls is enough. However, there is an entire world around us aching from genuine hunger, thirst, loneliness, nakedness, sickness, and imprisonment—Physical needs that need to be met in order to even have the opportunity to address spiritual ones. The question remains for each of us: are YOU willing to pay the cost to hear Jesus Christ himself say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”?
This week’s blog is a continued story from guest writer, Catherine Fitzgerald. Read the beginning of her story here. For more information on getting involved in any of our React Mission Opportunities, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.