As expected, the start to the school year has been super slow. Schedules are still being finalized, and we have been drinking coffee with leaders of the community, building relationships.
This week we finally were ready to start our new schedule. After an inspiring first day, schools were shut down for a month for Coronavirus prevention.
I don’t know if it’s the Gringa in me, but I am chomping at the bit, ready to see progress. Now.
Recently I have been tempted to force that progress. I want to push my teenage friend to go back to high school. I want to see my neighbor go to church every Sunday. I want to watch the village alcoholic put his bottle down and follow Jesus.
These are all good things, but let’s be real.
God calls us to love others. Not to make them our projects. Not to convince them to be believers. Not to make sure that they are progressing in a certain direction. Not to get to know them only to later reveal our hidden agenda.
If Jesus’ ministry were to be evaluated by the progress His followers made, it would be easy to say that it was a failure.
Prostitutes. Alcoholics. Doubters. Tax collectors. Outcasts.
It was His own disciple Judas who betrayed Him. When arrested, His disciples disappeared and hid in fear.
Jesus loved people just as they were. On the cross, he prayed “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).”
Let’s follow Jesus’s example and love others. Invite them into our homes. Walk with them through the good and the bad. Trust that Jesus is shining through us.
When we first moved to Esterillos, we had a policy of not lending money to anyone, under any circumstances. Gringos are stereotyped as being wealthy, so we are a target for being asked for loans of even the smallest amount.
A really good friend of ours borrowed some money from us. Normally we wouldn’t have done so, but we trusted this person. We spent time with them daily and had a solid relationship.
When they never returned the cash, we were hurt. But it was our reaction that was the true ministry. We forgave them and moved on as if nothing had happened. When we continued to talk to them, they were surprised.
The temptation is to insert a sermon. To give a long explanation for why we love them the way that we do. But instead we just love them, prepared to give an answer for why.
Recently this friend has returned the love. They have been going above and beyond to mimic our servant love. And they ask questions about our hope. They are encouraged by our faith.
God is on the move.
Join me today in this prayer:
“Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say;
And keep me out of your way. Amen.”
-Father Mychal Judge, NYFD chaplain, killed in 9/11 World Trade Center attack