I once did a 6-week internship in a foreign country that is located in the center of the earth. Otherwise known as Hades. Otherwise known as The Hottest Place On Heaven and On Earth. Otherwise know as A Place to Experience Daily Temperatures of 157 Degrees and 459% Humidity.
I will leave the location of this place unnamed, as I would hate to deter anyone from going there, because the people are enough to make you fall in love for a lifetime. This country is a 3rd world country and we thankfully got to experience the fullness of it. One example, we washed our clothes by hand on the roof for 6 weeks. That meant hauling water up and down several times, and then hanging them out to dry. We ate their food, drank their coffee, used their toilets (a lot I might add), walked their streets, visited their houses, became their friends.
Our “ministry” consisted of visiting our neighbors and simply doing their life with them. We talked about Jesus and school and kids and cats and cheating in cards. We drank coffee in their living rooms with cement floors. (Because if there’s anything that tops off a day in Hades, it’s coffee). We played cards and baseball, took walks and one run (and never again after that as it took my body temperature approximately one year to stabilize to a non-heart attack range), did each other’s hair and makeup, danced, celebrated a wedding and new marriage, visited a water park Third World style, and laughed and laughed and laughed. We always laughed.
There were three other interns beside myself and I don’t think any of us have ever laughed so much in our lives. We truly experienced the fullness of life. And all without modern “amenities” and “comfort.” Sure, we had them to some extent. We had suicide showers (water heated by electrical currents) and places to sleep and food to eat. But better than that, we had relationship. Authentic friendship.
We shared everything. Sickness, clothes, secrets, prayers, burdens, fears, laughter, beds, motorcycle rides, dreams.
“And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:44
We literally got to experience this.
We were completely welcome into the homes and lives of those who call this country their own.We were loved and we loved back. They loved us well. They showed us a living picture of true joy, contentment, sharing all things, fellowship, faith, prayer. Every morning we got up at 5am to have our quiet times and then to pray with and for one another.
Oftentimes when you go to a place that is poorer, it’s easy to develop a Savior complex. (I didn’t make up that term but I don’t know where I first read it, so I can’t credit it. Again, let’s pretend I’m brilliant.)
I’m going to go there and help them. Change them. Teach them how things are really done. But often, most of the time, all the time, we are the ones changed. Suddenly that one time we said, I don’t know what I’d do without my two-car garage/children’s play room/4-bedroom house, seems so silly. Instead we start to think such crazy thoughts like, How could I live with less so that I could help more? Give more?
Where do I see others with prejudice and judgment? When was the last time I looked at a person and saw a dirty face with unwashed clothes, and not the infinitely valuable creation that God knit together so carefully in their mother’s womb?
Lord, help us to love well. Help me to love like You do.