. . . and then . . .

I have been around for a while. I’m not ancient, but lets say I am a lot closer to 100 than 0. And in my nearly 60 years I have been in the service business for a very large part of that. When we start sharing stories of days gone by it often shocks me that for some to relate to a story of service they have to go back 5, 10, 25 years.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing the matter with a mission trip, or a time when a class or a group organized a time together to G.O. and serve someone less fortunate than themselves and it be memorable and fulfilling. I just find it a shame when the last time we did it was years and years ago. The need hasn’t gone away. What has?

My wife and I nearly 2 years out of our previous lifestyle, full of need and desperation were loved on by a Church led by a gentle man full of compassion and empathy. Serving as their Pastor, this Vietnam Veteran had seen ugly, he had made himself vulnerable for the sake of others, and my wife and I weren’t anything new to him.

But back to the point, 2 years into our recovery and New Life we went on a mission trip to South Korea. It was a life changing experience. Not only were we trained and prepared to go by the International Mission Board weeks and months in advance, we were lifted up and supported by family and friends as we prepared to G.O. and serve.

The reception in South Korea was overwhelming and Humbling. If these people knew who, what kind of people they were asking to pray for their family, to help their Churches really knew who we were they would probably feel different about us. But even in writing it, the Truth is revealed . . . who we were . . .

My wife and I were changed people, ever changing people. We might not have arrived yet at being all tat God wanted us to be, but we were headed in the right direction. My wife was shy and timid, especially when it came to sharing her Faith in front of crowds of people. She prayed, we prayed for Boldness, and the Lord showed up.

We went on from a one time appointment, trip, opportunity, to continuing to serve in dozens of locations and positions. Moved with a heart for others this woman has taught in both children’s and adult classes, she has worked along side of me, and completely on her own. She started an AIDS/HIV Ministry at our Church in the 90’s when it was taboo, unknown, and the world had all kinds of opinions about “those people.” She has stood in freezing snow storms to hand out food, to pray for those in need and to share the Hope that she has found to be true in Christ Jesus.

She herself, once a high school dropout, single mom, caught up in a dysfunctional lifestyle and relationship took a chance on serving someone else . . . and then . . . and then she found so much more. More to her than she thought existed, more of God’s Grace and Power living in and through her, more and more wisdom to not only see, but to meet the needs of others. And it continues today in her professional position and in her private life.

Today, as a multi college degree graduate, both in Bachelor and Masters studies she is still learning, still going, still serving. She continues to see the individual in the crowd that can use an encouraging word, a hug, a moment alone. And she still moves, acts when Given Opportunity. She has learned so much, given so much, done so much, but I know if she knew I was writing this she would say it is not about back then, but  . . . and then . . .

Maybe you haven’t had your South Korea moment where with trained and readied professionals you have stepped out of your comfort zone to help serve others. We can help you with that. Maybe you have, but it has been a while since you have re-engaged with people who could use a hand up, a kind word, a gentle ear. We can also help with that.

Maybe this is the invitation that you have been waiting for, needing. Your story can (re)start right now. “I was reading this blog the other day and I was challenged to step outside my comfort zone and serve. And then . . . . ” You can do this, we can help.

May the Lord bless you and comfort you as you Trust Him with your fears, anxieties, feelings, time and resources and take a chance. Take a chance on humanity, take a chance in your community, take a chance with your neighbor. You’ve got this,because He’s got you!

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