I ducked my head into the darkness of the 2 room house. Pieces of tin, reeds packed with mud, a few stones placed here and there, tarps and pieces of fabric to close openings... this was the “house”. House is a generous word.
My eyes adjusted to the darkness and I could see a small table with several pieces of cookware, plastic bowls, a container of water. A young woman and mother, just twenty years old, smiled and welcomed us into her home. Her 2 younger brothers, neither in their teens, looked on quietly from the corner. Her 5 year old daughter clung to her mama’s leg. We learned that her husband was long gone. Her mother had recently died as well.
Though my eyes had adjusted, my heart was still reeling. I was honestly frozen. This... is too much, Jesus. I can’t... I don’t know what to do.
As if I hadn’t already been pushed to the limits of my Western comfort level, I heard a sound from a darker corner of the house. I stuck my head through to the other room. I heard the sounds of... no, it couldn’t be. My Daddy instincts were on full alert. Though my youngest is now 13, it wasn’t so long ago that I was tuned in to every tiny breath and swallow late at night. (I was probably a little too attentive and every once in a while gave a little poke to see if they were still breathing) I turned to ask if there was something, or someone in there?
A quick flurry of words, a nod and then the translation: Yes, she has 2 newborns in there.
I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you.
I’ve been on enough mission trips to know that it’s usually those who go that are changed the most. So, I was under no illusions that I truly had anything to offer this small family. The other side of the give and take of short-term trips is that you can usually do just a little to make yourself feel like you are serving Jesus. Play with the kiddos for an hour. Hand out treats or toys. Go super spiritual and hold a VBS or if you’re JSF (Jesus Special Forces), you might do street evangelism. But this house and the people “living” in it had too many long term implications.
I think that’s why I truly froze. I am a Westerner that is used to comfort and I like to pat myself on the back for helping Jesus out in difficult places. This one was different. There were no quick solutions. The need was too great. My flesh was arguing with me: You can’t really do anything anyway. Just walk away.
A spiritual gut voice told me not to move and to “watch and learn.” I knew the voice was Jesus, so I did. Who was I to watch? Sybil. If you know this amazing woman, that’s usually all you have to say for someone else to understand. Her name is kind of like a noun, verb and adverb all rolled up into one. She loves Jesus in ways that I have only begun to scratch the surface. What I couldn’t do, she had been doing for years. As a follower of Jesus who had long ago surrendered everything to Him, she knew how to partake of this part of His body. Where I would say “there’s not enough” she knew that Jesus always has extra. And school was in session for this greenhorn. I watched her go to work as she came up with a plan to care for this family in Jesus Name.
And in my place of weakness and hunger, far removed from the comfort and ease of my life, the tiniest piece of living bread made it’s way into my heart and I found myself sitting at the King’s table. Right here in this dark, make-shift house, the lights were coming on and my heart was waking up to the reality of the Kingdom of God. Thank you, Sybil. Thank you, Jesus.
Whatever you have done for the least of these…