It's easy to become overwhelmed with the needs around you, around your church, around your family. And then there are the needs around the world...so big, so dire, so untouchable...it would seem. As we recently celebrated one year here in The Bahamas, we've done some accounting. Finances are always a piece of the pie. But accounting for time and usefulness and service...these are blurry figures. Which comes first, the poor child in the street, or the low-income child I know by name and hug each week at church? Which comes first, the unemployed stranger living out of his car or the single mom with little to no income at church? It can feel hard to know. I can rationalize that the needy loved ones at church will be taken care of by someone else at church while the poor stranger may only have me in his corner. Yet God's word says, "So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:10. And then Luke 6:30 says "Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."
This second verse...the Luke verse, pains me from time to time. Begging is common here. At street lights, at entrances to stores or pharmacies...there are people asking for help, some in wheelchairs, some who appear to be deaf. Our local friends have told us to be cautious, and when in doubt not to give. It could be dangerous for me to wind down my window and reach my hand out to a man on the side of the road. But this nagging feeling stays with me. "Won't God protect me? Won't God do what he says? Will God let me be harmed if I give without knowing this person's true state?" So I keep praying, keep asking God for sight to know what to do, what to risk.
The last 2 of 3 weeks my girls and I have followed the Lord's prompting to serve at Adventure Learning Camp, where a church member is the director. What joy we have found as we arrive early in the morning to prepare breakfast for 40-60 people who are visiting from the states to do mission work. Seeing these young people and their leaders refreshes my heart. They have only part of their last day to do sight-seeing and a trip to the beach. They are doing hard work. They are caring for people at our local AIDS camp, ministering to children at VBS meetings, building roofs, walls, repairing homes, and in the midst of it all, sharing God's love through Jesus Christ. And our care for them, by cooking and providing sustenance for them twice a day, is helping their mission go forward. I find myself literally beaming at times as I serve up the food, asking "one piece or two?" "Green beans" Or "Peas?" I love seeing God's people come and fall in love with the Bahamian people as we have. I love that they are willing to give up weeks of their summer to come to this hot, buggy climate where they won't get air conditioning all week and still end the day with a smile, praising and worshipping God for all He has done through Jesus.
So for now, this is how we help. This is how we make a difference. This is how we do mission. And it's only been all blessing. This is how we grow hands to serve.