In Luke 10:25-37 we find the familiar encounter of Jesus with a lawyer asking how he could inherit eternal life. We refer to this interaction as the story of The Good Samaritan. It is clear to me that often like the lawyer we want a clean answer, one that allows us to check the box and move on with our lives. The answer Jesus gives in story form, shows us that following Jesus and inheriting eternal life comes from heart change and because of that heart change we see lives changed. Both our own and those in need.
(Below is a painting we saw in a museum in Paris. The scale and realism of this masterpiece helps bring this lesson to life for me.)
Le Bon Samaritain - Morot, 1880 (In the Petite Palace, Paris)
Here in Burkina Faso, illness and death are everywhere. The needs are beyond our comprehension. As we live and work in small towns and villages we see things on a daily basis that we have all but erased from our western lives. Malaria, leprosy, polio, AIDS, horrible open skin ulcers and tuberculosis are all present and wreck havoc in peoples lives. There are so many more issues than I can share, along with people who have disabilities and chronic illnesses that plague them every day.
In the midst of seeing so much pain and suffering, we are constantly praying for the Holy Spirit to guide us to be the hands and feet of Jesus where ever he leads. Kristi continues to dive into loving others in their times of need. Wound care, medicines for those who are very ill and unable to afford simple and available medications, and working with children who have disabilities, are just a few of the things she does on a daily and weekly basis.
Through hospital visits, praying for healing, physical therapy and basic medical helps we have already seen God move and see that this kind of love is unique and opens peoples hearts and minds. Kristi has been working with a young boy in a Muslim courtyard in our neighborhood. His name is Galilou (Ga-lee-lu). He is the youngest of 6 plus kids and is two years old. He cannot walk (yet) and he has undiagnosed Downs Syndrome. Many times we see people go undiagnosed because of a lack of understanding and access to good health care.
Every time we pass their courtyard or see them around we are met with huge smiles of love and gratitude. Galilou's mom only speaks Jula, so it is good practice for Kristi. As relationship deepens and opportunities arise we are praying for these dear people to see the light of Christ and for their salvation. They are devout Muslims, but see the love of Christ in Kristi which is very different from the norm. Every day she is able, Kristi walks down to talk and put Galilou through the paces of therapy to help his coordination and muscles. She also helps as malaria and other devastating issues arise. Most days she comes back with a huge smile, while others are difficult and she learns more about clinging to Jesus and trusting solely in Him.
Our family fails on a constant basis and often experiences extreme disappointment while seeking to love and serve those in need around us. We also "get dirty" and it always costs something. It is impossible to be a neighbor a stay clean and hold our personal comfort as our highest goal. So, today I want to exhort you to be a neighbor, not just to those who can pay you back or who are not to messy. I'm afraid, too many times we are like the first two people to pass by on the other side of the road because of the inconvenience or messiness involved in being the hands, feet and face of Jesus to those in need.
Our reward is a heavenly one, that awaits us in eternity. (Matt. 6:19-21). Often, on this side of eternity we will be left dirty, tired and feeling used up. But, that's okay. In fact, that's the kind of people we are called to be. That's who our master was. We should be known by our love. (John 13:35). Look beyond your circle of friends and people in your demographic and ask God to break your heart for those who are desperate and who have been left for dead by the world. To follow Jesus is to walk as Jesus walked.
Pray for us as we endeavor to live out this crazy life that Jesus has called us to walk hand in hand with Him. And we are praying for you to get involved by loving your neighbors in ways that cost you something. Following Christ starts with dying…us dying to self, so that we can be brought to eternal life with Jesus. May our days of lip service and comfort be swept away by the presence of the Holy Spirit, dirty hands, tears and stories of our God's healing touch and faithfulness.
We must decrease and He must increase,