PRESENCE & DIVISION
I’ve been back from India for a few weeks now, and I am beginning to finally settle back in. It was quite a shock to return to the US even though I was only gone for a month. I experienced so many things that were previously foreign to me that it was hard to return to the familiarities of Kansas City life. As the dust continues to settle, there are a couple of major things I took away from the trip.
One of the things I immediately noticed was how much of a difference it made to have times of silence and solitude. While the children were at school I would also be studying...and praying...and studying...and praying some more. On any given day I was quiet for roughly 8 hours. It was incredible seeing how that time really affected the way I interacted with people for the rest of the day. I was seeing a huge increase in my capacity to love, as well as an increased amount of patience, compassion, and joy. I would go about my day completely awake to God in everything. I was actually beginning to see God’s beauty in all things—in the rocks, the trees, the hills outside of the complex, and all the people (regardless of their beliefs).
I read a lot about Mother Teresa while I was in India, and she was all about seeing Jesus in the least of these...and as I thought about this and how Jesus did his ministry, I realized that Jesus saw ALL people for who they were...men and women created lovingly by God. Their choices and lifestyles didn’t change who they were...and Jesus brought this fact to light. In the case of the rich, young ruler...it says that Jesus looked at him, LOVED him, and told him to sell all his stuff. The man couldn’t do it. He walked away, but Jesus loved him.
My mind has been officially blown.
The other thing that has really been weighing me down involves division. Ephesians 4:1-6 talks about how we are all unified because of Christ, but yet I look around and see the exact opposite. I see high schools with sub-groups galore, I see hundreds of different church denominations that are content with doing things alone, I see neighborhoods that are either nice or the ghetto, I see counties that make jokes about each other (Jackson and Johnson), and I see countries that have a lot and countries that have little to nothing. Wow! This isolation and division thing runs deep.
I recently read a book called “The Irresistible Revolution,” and in it the author makes an incredible point. Look at the life of Jesus. Here was a man who was not only born in the ghetto, but continually broke through social barriers. He was touching lepers, loving thieves, and saving an adulteress from being stoned to death. He was also confounding many teachers with his wisdom...this man was everywhere! He was not afraid to interact with those who did not think the same way as him.
Shane Claiborne, the author of “The Irresistible Revolution,” was so moved by this that he up and moved into the ghetto. He left his rural town and set up shop in Philadelphia with some friends. After getting settled and some time passed they began to develop some deep relationships with their neighbors, and before long they were having dinner at each other’s houses and were looking after each other’s kids. What is going on here? Community! Shane didn’t see people as black or white, rich or poor...he saw them as Jesus sees us...children of God. That kind of sight enabled them to love without an agenda. They were able to love every person they met because they saw God’s children...whether the people they talked to chose to believe it or not.
These two lessons have been incredibly challenging to me, and I would really appreciate some prayer as I figure out how I can better love people and try to create solidarity with those we tend to forget and neglect.
Since I’ve been back, I have been racing like mad to catch up on all the hiring I need to do for camp this summer. Wow! It is proving to take much longer than I ever anticipated. One thing that surprised me though is the caliber of many of the high school students I’ve interviewed. They are incredible! It made me wonder why on earth I was ever even allowed to be a teen staff, since my main goals for teen staff were to meet girls and go down the waterslide.
There are tons of examples as to why I feel like these students are way ahead of the pack, and here is just one example. It is not uncommon for me to ask the teen staff what job they would like to do, but their responses are what floor me. Many applicants when faced with that question simply reply with something to the effect of, “It doesn’t matter. I just want to serve.” Are you kidding me?! Who responds with that? The teen staff supervisors who have come before me really paved the way by instilling this deep sense of service and humility in the teen staff, and I can’t wait to continue to develop them as they simultaneously teach me.
Since I was gone for the month of February, I have been spending most every evening at the YF headquarters making phone call after phone call. The conversations I’ve had totally make it worth it. Every time I hire another student, it just makes me that much more excited to really pour my life and faith into them. Ah, the beauty of making disciples! I can’t wait to get to camp.
But since I do have to wait, I definitely could use some prayer as I meet with the different camp directors to discuss my plans for how the teen staff program will look this summer. It will be my first summer ever in this particular position so I am pretty much diving in headfirst and seeing what happens. Thanks for all of your support! I really appreciate the prayer...especially as I enter into another crazy busy camp season.