“The poor deserve not just service and dedication, but also the joy that belongs to the human heart.” – Mother Teresa
For years now we have hosted Meals of Hope to distribute food on Wednesdays from our campus. People register and receive food appropriate for their family size. Fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, dried goods – and now some specially prepared meal kits!
One of the things we have started doing, after we have set up the distribution point, is to pray for the clients as they are waiting. A few of us go from car to car, introduce ourselves, and ask if we can pray for them. Not a long, drawn-out prayer, but just a simple prayer for whatever is on their hearts.
What does this do for them? Does it rebuild their home, feed their children, put gas in their car? No, but it does something more important to the human soul. It says, “I see you. I see that, beyond all of the frustration and bitterness and harshness that life throws at us, you are a precious child of God.
“I don’t judge you by the condition of your car, or your command of the language, or the fact that you are looking for food right now. I see you as someone worth seeing, and worth knowing, and worth my time.”
I believe that this is just as important as the giving of food. What I want to do is to give them dignity – to look them in the eye and recognize a kindred soul who is walking this earth with me. I usually don’t even wear sunglasses, so that they can see my eyes seeing them.
“Jehovah El Roi” was the name given to God by Hagar after she had run away from Sarai, Abraham’s wife. Sarai had treated her cruelly and Hagar didn’t know where to go. But in the wilderness the angel of the Lord found her and gave her words of encouragement, that she would bear a son who would also become a great nation. Hagar could not believe that this great God, the god of her master Abraham, also saw her and her problems! “The God Who Sees” saw her, too!
Yes, the food and water and clothes and jobs are important – but what does it mean to give someone your time? What does it say when someone takes the time to learn your language so they can speak to you in your own tongue? How does it feel when someone says to you, “Tell me about yourself”?
We believe in a God who knows all of humanity, but also cares specifically for YOU. And when we can take the time to look into someone’s eyes and hear their story, we are sharing a very personal, loving God with them.
Peace be with you –
- Rev. Bill