aching

imageIt’s been a while since I’ve blogged. And for a while it was because I didn’t have time. I was busy with school, extracurricular activities, and AP exams.

And other times, I would sit down at the computer open a draft, tears stinging my eyes that were raw from exhaustion, pain and sorrow. I would write in unhealthy anger and uncontrolled fury, feeling so uninspired and dull, delete the post draft and then shut my computer.

I can’t tell you how many times this has happened in the last couple of months. I’m not back on my blog because my life is anymore “put together” and things are fluffy and nice than it was a couple months ago, but rather because I’ve realized that I’ve come to the end of myself.

I’m writing this post because I’m tired. I feel like my heart is being clenched and torn raw when I hold my phone frozen to my ear as I listen to the sobs of my best friend who just found out that her Mom has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I’m sober as I pull a black dress over my head, sit through the service, and offer what little words of comfort that I can to a family that’s hurting deeply. I’m angry when I open the news and find that a 5-year-old girl was tortured to death by her own parents and that the police came too late to save her. I’m speechless as I stand in front of the TV watching a tsunami wave washing over and engulfing a remote fishing town in Bangladesh. I’m tired of seeing this world so broken.

I’m aching. I’m hurt. I miss places that I can’t return to. I long for people that, as the time passes, only become shadows and glimmers of a memory. I miss Lebanon. I miss the Bekaa Valley dust on my lips. I miss the strong mint tea in chipped porcelain cups. I miss the little boy who runs ahead of me, nimbly with bare feet and laughs because he’s wearing my blue sunglasses that can’t even fit on his head. I miss the bright, humid classrooms filled with children eager to ask you questions to practice their English. A little girl with a bright pink outfit stared intensely at me, so I asked, “Ma Ism’ak?” or “What’s your name?” in Arabic. She didn’t respond, but giggled and turned away. I wonder about people who probably don’t remember me. I wonder how their stories unfolded.

Maybe you are exactly where I am. You don’t feel filled with joy, but you don’t feel like you’re at rock bottom. You just feel bland, unused and aching. I’ve found that it’s fruitful to be honest about where you are, and not to sugar-coat or ignore the aching problems that are beneath the surface. A fruitful life is not one that is without suffering, but one that has responded to suffering in the strength of God’s grace, hope and mercy.

Last Sunday’s worship at my church was beautiful. We sang a song called “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by an artist named Sandra McCracken. Since I play violin in the worship band, I got to hear it a week earlier and practice it. The lyrics express this deep pain and suffering that we see the World and ourselves go through, but also the joy of being invited to the Table to feast with our God and His people. I rarely write poetry, but the lyrics were so inspiring that I ended writing a short poem, that my worship leader, Johnny, asked me to read for the congregation. I wrote this based off of the passage Isaiah 55, where it talks about the ways that God provides good things for us, that even though we don’t know why or how, He always promises to be faithful and constant. God promises purpose in every season of our life, and I’m grateful that every day I can see it little by little.

“You, O God of Jacob, are inviting us to your Table
We need not buy wine or milk, for the Lord shall spread us a table of good things
Come, rejoice. We shall go into the fields and harvest and not return empty
We will feast and weep no more
You have mended our hearts, you have bound up our wounds
Instead of ashes, you have given us beauty
The mountains and the hills burst into song before you
And the fields will be ringing with the sound of clapping
From the olive and fig trees, whose once withered leaves have become lush and radiant
Where the thorn grows, so shall the Lord command the cypress tree to tower
And where the briar choked, so shall the myrtle flourish with a thousand blossoms
And joy shall come to this weary earth
Like a bird flying in the warmth of the morning sun
And all shall be made right once again
Come, rejoice. We shall feast in the House of our Jehovah Jireh; in the shimmering light of the garden of Peace
Weave us together, O God.
Bring us to your Table and establish Shalom.”
Friends. Let’s rejoice today in the light of our Savior. May we come to the Table humble and willing to receive your gifts. May we be bold to invite others to your Table as you establish Shalom in all the nations.
Thanks for stopping by today 🙂
Kate

 

 

 

Life Musings: A Kingdom

image I’m crazy. I have friends enough to inform me of my non-conformity to conventional human behavior. And in some ways, I’ve learned a ton this year how to become okay with that and owning it 🙂 Although, I must say, owning my craziness has unfortunately not made me less awkward 😀

Since my return from Lebanon, I’ve been crazier than ever. I had this thought. I wonder what it would be like if we loved deeply and without price. What happened if we let God’s grace infest our lives? What happened if we extended His grace  to others without expecting anything in return?

Her name was Eliana. A teacher in the school at Saida, Lebanon. With dark curly hair and determined eyes, they shone with strength and the light of Jesus. She spoke with deep feeling, joy and expression about the schooling program that they had for Syrian children. Eliana has a huge heart for the marginalized and children with special needs. She recognizes that there is so much creativity, wisdom and beauty that can come from the mentally ill. She’s seen it. She’s seen how love can transform a life of a special needs child. Eliana has committed her life to loving recklessly.

I want that. I want to love with a love that is not found on this earth, but found in God’s Kingdom. A love that is overwhelming, fulfilling, reckless and given with no price. Stop thinking about what is “fair” or something that we deserve because we’ve done a favor for someone. Do we deserve God’s love and grace? No, we deserve death and an eternity away from Him. But even so, His grace is there. So, extend some Kingdom love today. Give it relentlessly.

A Journey in Pictures: Monday in the Bekaa Valley

I thought I was over jet-lag when I woke up that morning. Wrong. I checked my clock, it was 4:00 AM. After multiple attempts to go back to sleep, I got up at 5 and went to take a walk outside. I dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and figured out that the team wouldn’t be at breakfastimage until 7:30. Liz was up too since we were both pretty jet-lagged anyway. We took a walk together in the cool morning air. Along the way we saw a small vineyard and
a melon patch, an olive tree grove and lots of white doves sauntering around the convent grounds.

At 7:30 we headed back to the cafeteria to have breakfast. Surprisingly, Dawn and Mike were there and so was Dr. Foster. The nuns had already laid out breakfast for us. Preserved figs, cucumbers, tomatoes, pita bread, some cheese that tasted like mozzarella, and apricot jam. We loaded up our plates and headed back to a table. I had some Lebanese coffee with cream and sugar (apparently people there drink it straight…I’m so American. haha :D). Kara, Nate and Stephen walked in, looking very imagesleepy. The team had a good laugh when Stephen told us that his air conditioning wasn’t working last night. Welp, living in Lebanon for less than 24 hours and we are already struggling.

At 8:00 sharp, the Heart for Lebanon white van pulled up to greet us. Out walked Milad, who we had met the night before and our driver whose name was Hassanein. We piled into the van and Milad told us the drive to the Bekaa Valley was almost an hour and a half. My hands were shaking with excitement and my brain buzzed with a million thoughts.

“Thank you God. Thank you for everything. Prepare my heart to listen, love and be present at these refugee camps.” I prayed silently.

We arrived in Zahle, the largest Christian city in the Middle East, says Milad. Zahle is a city near the Bekaa Valley. Hassanein pulled into a narrow alley and parked next to the Heart for Lebanon office. We entered through the glass doors and inside was a warehouse with several heavy white bags stacked high on wooden pallets. A short, clean-shaven man approached us with a warm smile. In one hand he held a small cup of Lebanese coffee and with the other he shook our hands saying his name was Bashir. For the next hour, he told his story of how he came to work for Heart for Lebanon and what he loves most about this ministry.

The most striking thing about his story was how the power of forgiveness and reconciliation has been a huge part of his walk with Christ and the ministry with the Syrian refugees. He tells us about the historical tension and hatred that exists between Lebanese and Syrians. In 1976, the Syrian regime took over and began to control the Lebanese government. Families were torn apart. Kidnappings. Murder. Now in 2011, when the Syrians are returning to Lebanon, they have neither weapons, tanks or soldiers, but rather, the clothes on their backs and a desire to return to their homes as soon as possible.

“If I did not have Christ within me, I would hate them,” said Bashir. “I can forgive them because He has forgiven me. I can show love to these Syrians because the Lord has shown me love.”

Bashir wants to be an ambassador for reconciliation and the grace of Christ Jesus. The truth and beauty of the Gospel transforms lives. It mends broken communities and brings peace to difficult political and historical tensions where there is deep bitterness and hatred. This great love that the Heart for Lebanon workers have for the Syrians is, by the World’s definition, mind-boggling and so reverse. This makes the Syrians genuinely curious, they are asking the H4L team why they are doing this. This radical love and reconciliation that they are showing opens doors to the words of the Gospel!

imageBashir accompanies us to the tent camps in the Bekaa Valley with the Heart for Lebanon truck filled with supplies following behind us. When we arrive, we jump out of the van surrounded by several women dressed in long chadors with their children close to them. I’ve never been stared at so intently in my life. We make our way to the supply truck and pack bags with oil, soap and towels to pass to each of the women waiting. The sweltering heat and humid air beats down on us, there is no shade or lush trees, but I smile knowing what life-changing work God is doing through Heart for Lebanon.

After the items are distributed, we split up and head to the tents for visits. Milad takes my group of Mike, Dawn and I to a tent. A Syrian man with a blue buttoned-down shirt gestured for me to come in and take my shoes off at the entrance. I felt ashamed as I removed my sandals to reveal my feet covered in dust from the rocky road. I sat down on a woven mat spread across the clean concrete floor. An older woman introduced herself to us as Jenny, on her lap was a little girl who stared at me with large eyes. While the man talked to Mike and Milad about their situation, I asked Jenny about her story and family. Turns out that the man is Jenny’s brother-in-law that helped her and her four children escape Syria illegally, since the Syria’s borders have been closed since 2014.

I look through a low window covered in green mesh close to where I am sitting. Two kids are staring and giggling at me through the small opening. I smile back, which sends them running in the other direction. I shift nervously on my heels wondering how I would interact with these people if they’re just afraid of me.

A few minutes later I lift my head and a group of children appear at the door. They approach me, their eyes wide with curiosity. I let them come close to me, one curious girl reached out and touched my hair and examined my skin that paled in comparison to hers. I felt awkward just letting them stare at me, so I pulled out a pair of blue sunglasses from my bag and put them on one of the kids.

The little boy with dark, curly hair and mocha colored skin laughed as he adjusted them to his liking. I giggled with the children as he stumbled around pretending to be blind with the silly-looking glasses on.

I didn’t know how long we had been there. My heart was captivated by these children, their warmth and beautiful eyes filled with love. One girl followed me out of the tent with her little sister trailing behind as Mike, Dawn and I made our way back to the van to get lunch. Her little hand slipped easily into mine and she said the only words she knew in English, “I love you!” My heart could have burst. Perhaps she didn’t know the gravity of that phrase, but I did, and I felt it so heavily. I did not know her name, her story or her imagefamily, but she captured me with her joyful soul.

We got back into the van, air-conditioned and ready for us to go get lunch. I couldn’t help but feel reluctant as we jolted out of the camp. When would I see these people again?

After lunch, the Heart for Lebanon team had prepared us for another set of tent visits, but Nate, by seeing how burned out and jet-lagged we were, told them that it would be best for us to head back to the convent and rest. Bashir agreed and told us to be ready tomorrow at 8:00 AM again where Hassanein would pick us up.

We arrived at the convent and Nate asked us to meet back down in the lounge area at 5:30 where we could debrief and just talk about what we saw today. Liz and I both agreed that the heat had exhausted us, but we washed up and came down with Bibles in hand ready to just process our emotions. After dinner and a short tournament of Dutch Blitz, we turned in for the night 🙂 It was such an amazing day, and I remember just falling asleep thanking Him for His goodness.

 

 

 

A Journey in Pictures: Traveling and Other Things

I look down at my plate of Pad Thai noodles and savor the sweet and spicy aroma snaking up to my nose. I pick up my fork and take up a huge mouthful. I laugh to myself realizing that this will be the last Thai meal I’ll get before leaving for Lebanon for 10 days.

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Pictured from left to right: Stephen, Mike and Dawn, Dr. Barry Foster and his daughter, Liz (orange shirt), Nate, our team leader with his daughter, Kara and then me! Such a privilege to get to know these precious people passionate about serving Jesus! #dreamteam

We had arrived at the airport at 12:30 expecting the rest of the team to be there, and my Dad gets a call from Dr. Foster, one of the team members, saying that our flight was delayed and will be leaving at 5:30 instead. So, my parents decided to bring me to a Thai restaurant and eat there until 4:00.

We headed back to the airport and sure enough there was my team! We said our goodbyes to our families and friends that came to see us off.

And note: That picture above is us in our youthful, energized glow…we looked kinda gross coming back/throughout the trip from lack of sleep, blistering Lebanese heat and lotsa jet-lag. Hahaha:D

We flew a short, 30 minute flight to Chicago and had 2 hour layover there at O’Hare. Liz and I split a sandwich and drank fruit smoothies. Feeling tired already, Dawn suggested that we play a game of Dutch Blitz to wake up us all. Nate and Kara joined in on the tournament. And yes, we all got competitive and yelled at each other. Dutch Blitz is intense, ok?  😀 After the layover, we headed to London on an 8 hour flight across the Atlantic and then a 4 hour flight to Beirut. Thankfully, Mike and Dawn had brought some motion sickness medicine and I didn’t puke on the flight! First time in the history of my flying experience, huzzah!

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This is the view from my plane window. Flying over the Mediterranean headed for Beirut!

We arrived in Beirut on a Sunday night at about 10:00 PM. We were picked up by Milad, our translator that was assigned to us for a week, and Daoud, director of Heart for Lebanon. They were so welcoming and I had a blast talking to Milad on the way to the place we were staying at. We arrived at the Convent of the Lady at the Well where we would be staying until the end of the week. All of us were too tired to draw any intelligent conclusions from the day during the debriefing time so Nate let us loose to go to bed. Thank goodness. I took the elevator in a blur and dressed for bed, said goodnight and fell asleep to the hum of the air conditioning.

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Rooms in the Convent Guest Area! Liz and I roomed together 🙂

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This is Kara and I in our pajamas ready to hit the hay and tackle tomorrow! As you can see we are both super tired 😀

Journey With Me: A Bitter-Sweet Return

I clutched the handle of my luggage bag, wrapping my Lebanese scarf around my shoulders and hearing the odd-sounding chatter in Mid-Western accent as the reality that I was back in the States settle in my mind.

I remember it all. The smell of Lebanese coffee and kefta with curried rice. The sweltering heat that exhausted us. The curious Syrian girls who giggled as they removed the small clips in my hair and placed them in their own. The barefoot Syrian boy in the Bekaa Valley running along the dusty, gravel street with my blue sunglasses slipping off each ear for they were far too big for him. Walking through the olive tree grove, with it’s pale, silvery-green leaves bending and whistling in the warm evening wind. Laughing, practically reducing myself to tears at the hilarious jokes and the unusual humor of the Heart for Lebanon team. The tears of Eisha, an elderly woman in the South of Lebanon; her family, torn apart by war, ISIS and horrific bombings. The smiles of Manel and Itab with their dark eyes, lighting up with joy and hope. I fight back tears and clutch my Lebanese scarf tighter as if I’m holding on to every detail, not letting one slip through my fingers.

image“Oh God. Why does it hurt so much?” I felt like my heart was being ripped out of me. I wondered why. Why did God let me go there for 10 days only to have my heart fully delighted and captivated by Lebanon and it’s people? Why?

I am there again, standing on the rooftop of the guest rooms of ABTS breathing the cool night air looking out at the bright Beirut city lights and the distant noise of the the cars and traffic. My heart beat outside my chest as if it would burst from the thought that this was my last night in Lebanon. I can’t tell you how many tears I shed that night.

Being back has been an emotional and spiritual roller-coaster. I am still processing things and the stories that I’ve heard and amazing reconciliation that is taking place because of the power of Jesus’ love that is stronger than fear or Satan’s plans for hate and destruction.

People constantly ask me, “So, how was your trip?” I basically choke. “Umm…it was, uhh, great!” Like seriously, God forbid, I start talking about the trip and I’ll never stop 😀 So take notes, if you want to hear about my trip, be prepared for a 5 page email. Grab some popcorn 😉 

But obviously, my jumbled rants scare people sometimes, so I had to train myself to keep it under 2-3 minutes. WHAT? My brain nearly exploded just at the thought of concealing a life-changing trip to 120 seconds adding in the “likes”, “umms”and extra distractions. While I won’t be the world’s greatest concise conversationalist, I have tried very hard to be brief, but impactful through my word choice and story selections.

And lucky you! You don’t have to be a victim to the sound of my rambling voice, but instead I’ll be breaking down my trip in little sections and telling you about each day, bit by bit!

I will be posting more frequently this week and next week because, surprise, I have lots and lots of pictures for you to see and many stories for you to hear! Stay tuned and thanks for reading today! 🙂

 

 

I am Left with no Words…

There is forgiveness tonight, for me, for you, for the members of ISIS, for the World.

Where can you run from His love? He will come to us like rain, like the rushing wind sweeping through desert sands of Jordan, so shall His love overwhelm, satisfy and fulfill us.

Let us kneel in humility before the Cross. Lay down your weapons, your lives, your desires at the foot of the Cross where Jesus Christ was slain.

Though our sins were like scarlet, He can make us white as snow.

His blood has washed you clean.

Journey With Me: Let’s Go.

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Things are starting to feel real.

You guys! I’m leaving for Lebanon this Saturday.

WHAT. EVEN.

I usually roll my eyes when my guy friends say something like “Dude, I’m totally stoked for summer. Like bruh, totally stoked.”

Ok…but yeah, to be honest, I’m stoked for Lebanon. Like bruh, totally stoked.

Alright I’m done trying to be the hip cool teenager, because for obvious reasons, I fail at it. Haha 😛

The very fact that I leave Indianapolis in just 2 days to a country that has captivated so much of my heart, I am overwhelmed. I journal daily while I eat breakfast and begin my morning. I can’t find the words sometimes simply because I am too excited, but it’s amazing to imagine that I am able to document this adventure on paper.

As I prepare and read Scripture, I keep coming back to the prayer that a good friend of mine wrote that has given me incredible peace about missions and our pursuit of Jesus in that, and I thought I might share it with you before I leave on Saturday. It’s lingered in my mind for a while and I hope you make this your prayer for wherever you are!

“Jesus, You are the bread given by our Father in heaven.

You promise that those who come to You will neither hunger nor thirst. But we have doubted Your goodness in the face of the world’s injustice. We have preferred isolation and apathy to the reconciliation that you offer. We have failed to receive your love. Lord, have mercy.

We come to Your table with open hands, O Lord ready to surrender and receive.

You who gave Your flesh for the life of the world, teach us to hope in Your goodness. You who came in the power of the Spirit to proclaim good news to the poor, teach us to seek justice alongside the people with whom we live. You who are love incarnate, teach us to accept Your welcome and to gladly receive and give gladly in our communities near and far. 

Bread of life, send us out into the world with the taste of mercy in our mouths. Let Your tears give us courage. Let us take this bread and proclaim Your death, O Lord, celebrating the victory of Your resurrection until You return to make all things new.”

Lord Jesus, with every fiber in our bodies and aching of our heart, we ask that You ignite our souls and empower our minds to reach a world in need. Help us to remember that our journey with You is not about the task, but rather about the Purpose. Guide our steps and soften our hearts and eyes to the world that so desperately needs You.

Thank you, Father. For everything.

 

 

Journey With Me: A Ministry of Presence

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It has humbled and overwhelmed me, knowing that people are praying for work of our Father to be done through me and the Beirut team that will be leaving June 18. I’m not sure how to process everything properly and it seems as if words flow from my mind faster than my fingers can type.

Katie, just shut your mouth and listen.

A couple weeks ago, I had just finished up “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer, received the Typhoid and Hepatitis vaccination, and learned some conversational Arabic, but I still felt nervous. I felt small. There are millions of Syrian refugees, and I am one person. Most of all, I was worried about being in a new culture. What if I offended someone? What if I am culturally insensitive towards a Lebanese brother or sister? These questions seemed to haunt me for days.

I felt inadequate. And that is when He reminded me of His perfect strength.

I received a letter from a dear friend and his wife informing me that they had received my support letter in the mail.

Not only did he write that he had donated money to my trip funds, but he also encouraged me to “Ask God to help you see and to feel what He does. Ask Him to make you a living example of His power and love, to encourage Christians, and to introduce others to His reconciling grace.”

It struck me that I am not defined by my success to win people into the kingdom of Christ, but rather, I am called to observe Lebanon with tender eyes and a hurting heart, much like the one God has for these Syrian individuals living in Lebanon.

This is a ministry of presence.

If we go on a mission with the sole purpose to be a hero that wins individuals into the kingdom of God, we have clearly missed the point.

Mission trips are designed for us to love individuals, to listen to and serve them, just as Jesus Christ has done for us. Just as we serve them, we must be open to being served. If a family or individual offers a gesture of hospitality, receive it with grace and warmth.

After God revealed that to me, the pressure to convert Syrian refugees, left me. I was free from the pressure to be the one that “saved” them. He doesn’t ask us for our short-lived spasms of passion to be thrown at victims of injustice, but rather, our long-term obedience and patience to His will and to His people.

A person going into a ministry of presence must have patience to wait for change, for acceptance into another culture, and for justice to be restored among a community.

Let God use your weakness, failures and shortcomings.

God uses our weakness. Yes, He uses it. He doesn’t work around it or in spite of it, but rather through it.

In fact, His strength is seen most prominently through my weakness as stated in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

We are not defined by our success or failures, and neither is God. His character and very being is not based on our performance. Whether we fail or succeed, God’s power, love, beauty and goodness remains unchanged.

This is why I no longer pray that I “do well”, but rather whether I fail or succeed, His glory, love and grace will be prominently displayed in me.

My prayer for you who are reading this post, that you will trust the strength of our Father to be made perfect today in your many weaknesses.

 

 

Journey With Me: Ignite

imageI’ve never been so stressed out in my life.

I glance nervously at the clock and then at the pile of blank envelopes and support letters strewn about the table.

In addition to raising a support team that partners with me in prayer, I have to raise $2700 by June 18, get Hepatitis and Typhoid vaccinations, purchase fashion that is appropriate for blending into Lebanese culture, read “Blood Brothers” by Elias Chacour and “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer, and still keep up with school.

Whew. Deep breaths, Kate, deep breaths.

Somehow, I’ve been able to set aside a chunk of time every week to blog and sit in solitude and just breathe. But other than that, life has been hectic beyond my imagination.

When I have exactly 6 weeks left of my least favorite subject, Chemistry to complete before I leave for Lebanon, keeping up my motivation is so incredibly hard. To be honest, I’m completely exhausted every night, but refreshed a little bit more each morning from the Father. It’s crazy, but He continues to show me again and again, despite my doubts, that no matter what the outcomes, He is still good and ever faithful. It’s been an amazing exercise of faith, trust and patience that I can’t quite wrap my head around.

Today I learned something new about servanthood that struck me. As I was praying this morning, I was asking God to set me on fire for His kingdom.

But I wondered, what if there is more to that prayer? What if servanthood was more than short spasms of passion that last for a few weeks or months? What if passion for Christ’s kingdom means a life that leads steadily in obedience and humility towards God’s will?

Friends, I believe that there is no other calling that is higher than just loving people the way Christ has loved us. You may be sitting in an office or a classroom, stuck in the dreary, mundane routine of life, or maybe you’re feeling discouraged and trampled on by others. Wherever you are, I pray with fervor that you will realize that no matter how God uses us or how young or old we are, He works miracles, gives us wisdom and courage that can give us unimaginable strength and peace.

Yes, ask God to set you on fire, but that is a prayer that must lead your life. In the mundane, the chaos, the grief and the joy; embrace it as a part of God’s plan and will for you. He will not abandon you at your darkest hour or highest peak. He has fathomed and reached them all and knows what it feels like.

Ask God today to fan the glowing embers of your soul to create a single, steady flame that does not rise up in an inferno and scorch its surroundings, but rather, warms the air and gives a little more light to the darkness that engulfs us.

 

 

 

 

Journey with Me: Choose the Towel or the Robe

Heimagere’s Part Two to my Lebanon trip series!

As part of my trip preparation, I have been asked to read a book called “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer. The main idea of the book is to help us understand how to serve the World through understanding and receiving their unique cultures with sensitivity and complete Christ-like humility. It’s an amazing read and I would recommend it to any of you wanting to go into missions!

It’s definitely been one of the most convicting books I’ve read on the topic of missions. It shows how complicated missions can be when we unconsciously offend people in our host cultures. Sometimes, without even meaning to, our acts of service can be communicated to them as arrogance, superiority and imperialism.

What Will You Choose?

My favorite part of this book is when Elmer talks about Jesus emulating humility and how we must follow Him as a servant. Elmer points out how the disciples and Jesus seemed to choose two completely different roles: the Robe and the Towel. The disciples thought that they deserved the “robe” of power, position and wealth, because after all, they were followers of the Messiah, right?

Too often, I can relate to putting on the Robe and being much like the disciples. Instead of giving up my life, I surrender things to Jesus that I am most comfortable with. But the things that I hold onto like a vice grip are things like my Robe of position and superiority.

God doesn’t call us to give up the things that we are comfortable with giving up, but rather the things that we find too uncomfortable to surrender.

He calls us to be like Jesus. Jesus chose the Towel. Think about it for a moment. Jesus’ life as a human began in a lowly stable smelling of livestock and dirty hay. It ended as He hung; His bloody, torn body nailed to a cross and His head bowed in submission to the Father’s will.

As Elmer puts it:

“Neither the opening nor the closing scenes of Jesus’ life suggest anything but a life of humble service-the life of the towel. In between these two scenes are hundreds of others that suggest a kind of towel mission: seeking the lost, preforming miracles, touching the poor and marginalized , casting out demons, doing good, teaching kingdom values, nurturing people, praying, fasting and other activities showing His service to mankind. His life was given to carrying the towel , the symbol of humanity, obedient and, ultimately suffering service.”

So, which do you want? We have a choice: the Robe or the Towel. “Both are found in Scripture, but only one is appropriate for Jesus’ followers,” says Elmer.

The Towel is less “spectacular.” It’s not adorned with power, recognition, wealth or even comfortable living. It’s a quiet symbol. A symbol of humility that Christ lived perfectly, and we are called to emulate.

Changing the “World-Changer” Mentality

Too many times mission trips can make us feel like superhumans with fluttering red capes and a triumphant “S” plastered on our shirts.

We feel as if it is our need to save people because we are higher and more privileged than they are. Instead of serving people with grace, we label ourselves with “world-changer” as if the world needs our heroism.

My friends, the mission field is not a place to flaunt our ability to change people. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just sit, shut up and listen to their stories. Why can’t we just cry with them, hold their hand and for once, just immerse ourselves and fall in love with their culture? How about we stop treating people like evangelism projects and start loving them as people that God has breathed life into?

We are not called to change the world, that’s God’s department 🙂 We are demanded to serve others. To bend down and wash their feet in humility and love. Serving others means getting dirt under your fingernails. Serving others can mean exhaustion and sleep deprivation. Sometimes, serving others means extreme persecution and death. But wherever we are, I believe that Christ will fill us with exuberant faith and overflowing joy that no other hardship can even compare.

The beauty of the mission field doesn’t lie in our abilities and successes or the people that we were able to change. The beauty lies in an amazing God that can use a broken person with so many weaknesses and shortcomings to serve Him and the people that He has created in complete obedience and Christ-like humility.

I can only leave you with a verse that has defined, and will continue to define the way I will serve others…

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

~John 13:12-17

Thanks for reading:)