The following is an excerpt from the student’s devotions in our 2015 theme material at Live It and Serve this summer.
Diane grew up in what others would consider a Christian home. Diane’s family; two older brothers, mom, dad and Diane, went to church every Sunday – twice, but some things were well hidden in that home. Diane was bullied since she was a young girl by one of her brothers. Her parents found out and made sure it was kept quiet. They just walked through the motions of life. Diane struggled in school socially. She had only a handful of friends and trusted no one. Called “shy” by her teachers, they never really noticed that Diane was withdrawing more each year. Just before her high school years came to a close, her brother sought forgiveness for his actions. He had come to realize the pain he caused his sister and family. He blamed it on being a kid, being stupid at the time, but more than that, he realized how deeply he needed it set right. Diane wasn’t ready to let go that easily.
After high school, Diane went to a small Christian college that specialized in teaching people to do overseas missions. Overseas was the dream for Diane – Africa, South America, somewhere warm and far away. She could escape her small town, serve the Jesus she had come to love in spite of all her pain, and follow the call she had heard on a week long mission project called Serve. That week of Serve changed her. For the first time ever, she had met people who lived in really poor conditions, and Diane did not just feel comfortable there, she felt called there. She decided she would find those people overseas. All she needed was a little bit of money first.
Diane, under the guidance of a friend, took a job working with impoverished folks in a large city in North America. Each day, she would walk with her co-workers among the most impoverished in her country. People survived by diving into dumpsters for food, begging on street corners and living in cardboard boxes under bridges. She came to know these people not as impoverished but as her friends. Each person she met had a story – a deep dark past, and none of her newly found friends could hide their pain. It was as obvious as their weather worn jackets. They couldn’t hide it if they tried. They had to be honest. In there, somewhere, Diane found the courage to be honest too. She began to share about her past, her brother, and her pain. It was refreshing and renewing. Among the lowest of the low, Diane met Jesus. In the homeless men and women, Diane was finally free to share, to be loved in spite of her past and to sense a healing that could not come after years of trying.
Her brother never expected a visit. She didn’t call first, but Diane hopped on the train and hoped he would be home. It wasn’t easy, but they talked. They opened up, and in the midst of tears, they found a way through forgiveness.
It’s not perfect yet. Diane still has some struggles with her past. It creeps in and echoes in ways that still hurt. To this day, however, Diane works on the streets in that same city. She never did go overseas. Missions are everywhere. Missions is life. She hangs out with the poor all the time. She buys lunch for some people and lets some of her friends buy her coffee. They have deep wonderful conversations, and together they find home. Christ is there with her. She meets him every day on the streets.
We don’t all need to go on the streets. Some of us are not called there, but we all need to love. We all need to live this Kingdom out every day. It is our mission. It is our life.