We interrupt the regularly scheduled programing about the remainder of our trip to La Esperanza to interject a brief lesson on "Giving and Loving".
We visited a different church today with expectant hearts. The praise and worship was well organized, and the songs all went with the theme of the day. Giving and serving. We watched a dramatized song on their video projector to a beautiful song about giving to the poor and needy, giving to those around us, giving in all types of situations. This is Valentine Sunday after all. A good day to focus on these important aspects of the Christian walk. The Pastor shared a couple special songs about Love before preaching a sermon on how to be great in God's Kingdom by being a servant to all. It was good. It was from the Word of God.
Just before the service a couple walked in with their two year old girl. It was obvious they had been doing a lot of walking. He carried a large backpack and she had the toddler in a carrier on her own back. They asked for food, or work, or a place to sleep. We referred them to the leaders in the church who gave them some bread and a coke but said that they couldn't do more because they weren't members of the church. Was it church policy? Maybe they get a lot of beggars coming to their door. Should one church be expected to meet the needs of all the poor that come knocking?
As the little family walked out once again carrying the loads on their backs with discouraged faces, a visitor followed them out. She was a stranger to this church, but she was filled with compassion for these other strangers who needed some help. She listened to their story. They had moved out of the country in search of work and what work they found had since dried up and they were in desperate need. They were trying to get back to their hometown and had walked and walked to get this far to Tegucigalpa, but still wanted to get to their family in La Ceiba. They thought the church was the perfect place to go for help. They owned a Bible. I watched him reading it as they waited for the church to help them. Now they wondered with tears in their eyes why this church couldn't help them.
The stranger, the visitor to this church today, tucked some money into their hand and made sure to tell them that it was from God. That God still cared for them and loved them and He doesn't live in buildings called churches, but He lives in the hearts of His people. She didn't want them to walk away bitter and offended with God. She wanted them to know His love. Besides, it was just enough for the bus fares to their northern destination!
She was my sermon in action today. She was my conviction and challenge. She was the altar call that brought me to tears on the ride home. In this country where there are beggars galore that she lives among; in a country where she has been taken advantage of; in a country where the needs are more than she alone can ever provide for; she has NOT lost compassion. She is carrying the love of God.
Stay tuned for the rest of our Esperanza trip tomorrow.