Saturday, July 28, 2012

what is the gift of love?

Love can be expressed in diverse ways and in diverse places. Consider where our team from San Antonio, Texas may have seen love in abundance on their recent mission trip to Malawi:

Was it . . . the humility we felt as the women in the village came to meet us singing, dancing and hugging us as we arrived?

Was it . . .  the child who quietly walked up to us and lightly grabbed our hands to walk with us for the duration of our visit?

Was it . . .  in the smile of a child who just ate their only meal of the day?

Was it . . .  the moment Kelly attracted the children to tell them of God’s love?

Was it . . . the powerful sense of the Holy Spirit that brought life, healing, and hope to women who possessing only their children came to learn how to crochet in the hopes of a brighter future for their family?

Was it . . . the smile that radiated from the little girl with the torn dirty dress and the shaved head?

Was it . . . the prayers and worship that rose up from the youth in the village as we sat in church together?

Was it . . .  when Judy would help the Home Based Care Volunteer hear her heartbeat for the first time. 

Was it . . . the construction, with the help of the youth, at the Home of Mercy, a safe house for women and children caught in domestic violence?

Was it . . . the care and concern the Somebody Cares staff had for us?

Was it . . . on Friday game day in the laughter and joy found in being together?

Maybe . . . it is wrapped up in the fact that Jesus gave His life for us so that we can follow His example in extending love to one another!

“Because we loved you, we were happy to share not only God's Good News with you, but even our own lives. You had become so dear to us!” 1 Thessalonians 2:8

Grace and Peace in abundance.

The Living Hope

In the bible, hope is not wishful thinking but a firm conviction, much like faith.  For Christians, we are assured of hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Hope invigorates and spirits up the soul to action, to patience, to fortitude and perseverance to the end.  This is our Living Hope. 
I was listening to Crystal Bowersox singing, "Up to the Mountain” strangely it triggered a vision of Jesus.  He had been teaching, preaching, and healing throughout Galilee. I imagined He was tired but as He turned He saw the expansive crowds, I could see a small smile on His face as He watched the expression of amazement on the multitude of faces eagerly watching Him.  Resigning Himself, He made His way to sit along the gently sloping hillside along the Sea of Galilee.  He called His disciples to come to Him, with the sun warming His back; he began to outline His standard for all Christians.  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted, blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:3-6, 8).   Probably like most believers, I haven’t really seen much fulfillment of this through the lives of those that I encounter on a daily basis. 
It came to me that our San Antonio, Texas June Team in Malawi brought Living Hope to the Blessed.  Every day in community there were precious moments with the children - the blessed.  Looking into the angelic faces with the eyes of Jesus, I saw team members bring HOPE to the “least of these” in the kingdom.  Every time John would turn from his task and seeing the quizzical faces looking up at him, he would bend to their level; language no longer a barrier, he would sit among them with a smile on his face revealing hope through his presence.  In another captured treasure, I was sitting in the courtyard of the Home of Mercy, when I heard uncontrollable laughter.  Smiling, I turned to see what was so hilarious, what I found was Guy, a huge smile on his face, pushing 2 small boys in the mouth of a wheelbarrow.  They were falling all over each other, legs and arms flying everywhere, laughing so hard I wondered if they were able to breathe.  And I thought in that moment - Jesus, through Guy, was in motion bringing hope to the blessed.  Something deep inside me said, breathe deep, moments like these are treasures to keep. A small child having never seen a white person - an azungu - would be full of fear, crying, and hiding until he saw the sweet smile of Colby kneeling down to him, holding out her hands gently beckoning. Patiently waiting for the child to resolve to come on his own terms and seeing the light of Jesus in her eyes, this small one, this blessed one, would smile back and reach out to touch ever so lightly.  Living Hope offered to the blessed.

I am captivated at how God graciously revealed Himself by reaching down, and through the Holy Spirit available in the lives of those that are open; He created in them the qualities of His own character to teach the rest of us the richness of His kindness.  He brings to the non-influential, the unlikely ones, those living in the farthest reaches of our world: The Living Hope.  I am encouraged, inspired, and motivated by witnessing this living example of the only viable way to approach life with our Lord. 
                         Grace and Peace in abundance.