There’s a young lady at the missions camp that I had the great pleasure to be the leader for last year. Last year we went into a low income community and taught vacation Bible school. Her heart and tenderness were essential elements for us to be successful. I’m back in that community this year doing sports evangelism: teaching soccer. And I’m able to reconnect with a couple of the kids we worked with last year, who came out partially because of the work done by this particular camper. And wouldn’t you know it? At the camp this year, she’s back on the same ministry team as last year, an evangelism team, sharing her faith. They aren’t working the same community this year (probably because we’re there), but they are leading VBS and reaching out to kids. Oh, and here’s the kicker: that community she worked last year and I’m back in this year? That’s her community. Her house is right in the center of it.
“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
– Matthew 25:34-40, NASB
The community where this particular camper lives is heart-wrenching. You can walk around and see the problems, clear as day. I remember last year thinking that the only way to make a difference is to build a sustaining ministry in that area. And I thought about how to do it but never came to much of a solution. Being back in that community again this summer (God, are you trying to tell me something?), I am thinking the same thing again. These folks need help. The kids in that community need to be shown that there is a loving Savior who cares for them. He wants to bring them into His fold, to show them His great love, to inspire them, to encourage them, to give them hope. And this camper I mentioned poured her heart last year showing them just that.
I know when Jesus was talking to his disciples about splitting people into two categories in this parable, this particular young lady was the one He described in the verses I quoted. She fed those kids and gave them something to drink. They were strangers and she invited them in. Yes, she will hear the King say, “You did it to Me,” as a high praise for her love for others. She has a servant’s heart. And despite the fact that she isn’t much better off than the ones she’s ministering to, she has stepped forward to love them. This is what Jesus intends for all of us who call Him Lord. He wants us to step forward and love. He wants us to serve to meet their needs. This is how the Church will be powerful. At least, powerful in a way that has eternal consequences.
It’s easy to say, “I’m not really in a position to help, Lord,” but that’s nonsense. This teen breaks down such arguments. Equally gone is, “Lord, there’s so much to do. I’m not capable of much. Surely you mean someone else.” Another one that falls by the wayside is, “I’m too young to help.” She’s a teen. If we’re any bit older than she is, we’ve lost that argument, too. We’ve got to have a heart for serving others, for reaching out beyond ourselves and the walls of our church. We need to look into our communities, both those right around us and anywhere else in the world. And we’ve got to serve. We’ve got to love. We’ve got to minister. We’ve got to care. This is what Jesus means in the verses of this parable. I’m not sure what to do with respect to the future and this community. I’m still searching God’s will in all of this. But regardless of what God’s desire for me is, I can take inspiration from the heart of this teen. I can be encouraged and motivated by her love for others and her desire to minister to them. And I can seek to emulate her example in my own life. Now that would be pleasing to God.