BY TIM BISTLINE
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:37-40 (NLT)
My oldest daughter, Emily, spent a week of her Christmas college break on a mission trip to the Bowery Mission in New York City. Sixteen young adults went on an urban adventure to love God and love “their neighbor’s” in the Big Apple. Something amazing happened to my daughter which solidified the entire purpose of the trip; something so small that you and I might miss it, but my daughter “caught the God moment” with both hands and her heart. Here is her story…
On Tuesday, the team of college students were sent out to an area in the neighborhood known as Thompson Park to set up a “make-shift” food market where homeless people could come and shop for fresh food and produce. Along with the portable market, a food line was set up to distribute hot food for the taking. It was a cold, damp and rainy morning
Emily began serving soup in the food line; sandwiches were being served along with drinks. Other students moved crates of food out of a delivery truck o keep the portable market shelves filled with food for those who came to shop. The mission team kept busy despite the outside conditions growing worse.
Midway through the morning, Emily served a homeless man who was struggling to communicate with her as to what he wanted; there seemed to be a language barrier despite her efforts to speak Spanish to the man. He kept pointing down, looking under the table as if to point at her feet. She nodded, kept her composure and tried to remain polite but was confused by his actions and attempts to speak. After a short time, the man-made his way through the “soup line” and disappeared into the large crowd that had gathered for the food.
Time passed. Emily kept serving soup. A light rain turned into a slow drizzle of showers; more time passed. And then, out of no where, the man returned to the soup line with an empty pizza box. He made his way around the table, moving toward Emily; she felt some concern rising up in her, but did not panic. She did not feel as though he was posing any kind of threat. After all, he was only caring a pizza box. He stood beside her, gently pushed her to one side and put the pizza box on the ground where she had been standing. She watched the man in action; she began to notice that where she had been standing, a puddle of water had formed around her feet. She then began to realize that her feet felt cold and wet. The man motioned for her to step on to the pizza box; she did and once again, began serving soup. Then it “hit her”… the God moment.
In an effort to love and serve God by loving and serving her “neighbor”, Emily realized that the “neighbor”, with nothing more than some street smarts and ingenuity, returned a favor of love with the gift of a pizza box to keep her feet dry. (It is the wisdom on the street… to survive, you must stay warm and dry and it is very important to take extra care of the feet.) A simple, small, kind act of love from a stranger changed the heart of my daughter that day. The power of love through serving others can make a big difference in our lives and in the communities in which we live, and change our hearts. Let us ALL learn to lead with love!
For more info in the Bowery Mission, check out their website… http://www.bowery.org