Before I left Texas I had the privilege of speaking at my home church, The Mission. Pastor Cory and I had made plans that I would share on my last Sunday home and I was fine with just a few minutes. He called the day before ready to bargain with me. I was like, “Five minutes would be fine”, he said, “twenty”. Did I need to remind him that I bargain for a living in Africa more often than he did? I mentioned ten with a video and than he offered the whole service to me. Finally got him down to 15 minutes and thus started a Saturday night preparing a sermon from scratch. I knew I had my VVF video to show, but what else could I share, how could I challenge a group of believers? Most of them raised me in the nursery and knew my missionary stories. Some were parents of kids I used to babysit and youth group kids I led in Bible studies, all grown up. However as I looked out across the congregation the next morning there were new faces. My home church has kept meeting together despite downsizing to become The Mission for the surrounding areas of Hurst-Euless-Bedford. Its not a mega-church, but a place full of people that are willing to love each other by taking meals to those in need and keeping those that are sick in their prayers. I wanted to challenge them what it looks like to love outside your comfort zone. What it means to not only love your neighbor, but your enemy or even love a stranger. I shared with them the ministry of loving the unlovable. I have had the pleasure of holding babies with cleft lips that have been shunned from their villages. Holding the hand of a patient before surgery and that physical touch being rare since the tumor took his face. This past year, loving the fistula ladies that endured days-long labor, losing a baby, and their husbands leaving them because they smell like urine. I have to admit this is still difficult to explain to a huge audience like in a church, but over coffee with a nurse friend I can talk about fistulas with no hesitation. I shared with my congregation that these ladies are often seen as modern-day lepers. Sometimes like the woman with the issue of blood who reached out to touch Jesus’ robe risking her life, but receiving healing because of her faith. As well as, the Samaritan woman that Jesus meets at the well probably shunned by her community since she is the only one there at the time. Our screening team sometimes can find the fistula ladies very early in the morning by the river doing their washing and collecting water before the rest of village wakes up. I showed the video I made this summer with a song called “When Loves Sees You” by Mac Powell and the words ring true for not only my patients, but also you and me. The lyrics describe Jesus’ ministry on earth that we need to follow- loving others no matter their wounds.
I continued on with about 8 minutes left, watching the clock since I’m not one that likes the spotlight. Pastory Cory had been speaking on 1 Corinthians 13 that past weeks, so I outlined my mini-sermon based on the passage. Sixth graders at our church memorized the chapter for years in the Williams Sunday School class to receive our own Bible at the end of the year. The scripture has always stayed with me and even last year I had a keychain with the verses 4-7. For me, a needed reminder that love is patient, kind, and not easily angered as I worked along side nurses from another background than mine. As I took care of Isatu for months, I knew that this love endured all things and showed her love that did not give up, but hoped for her to be better again one day. Another patient I became close to, before she left the centre, gave me the only possession she brought with her. It was a simple craft of yarn made into a ball, but she gave me everything she had out of love. I will strive to do the same and support her in school, with love, or else it doesn’t count for anything. When I shared my ladies’ stories, I saw the tears being wiped away in the audience; I even had to keep mine at bay. As I sat in front of church, it came to me how much my Heavenly Father loves me. Love moves people to give everything they have to those they love. God ask the same for us because He did it first- by sending his Son. Just like the song in video, Jesus “came for your story, came for your wounds, to show you what Loves sees, when Love sees you.”
To watch the video click here: Love