Congratulations to Laura who is getting married this week!!
For those of you who didn't already know this about her, she has a passion and a burden for mission work. I can see the longing she has to go back to the people she ministered to and I can tell her heart breaks and is put back together by the love she has for them. There is something solemn and deeply stirring about living in someone else's reality, especially when they are in need. Not to mention when they live in a different culture than you do. I've also experienced mission work and that's something Laura and I have bonded over the last two years!
I was reminded of this when I read this verse about the Virtuous Woman...
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
"Stretcheth" This assumes that the poor are far away from her. Maybe they are physically far from her or maybe they live in a vastly different way.
How often do we go out of our comfort zone to help someone in need?
Are we willing to stretch ourselves to a place we never thought we would go in order to show God's Love?
"Reacheth" This assumes that she will then bring them in close to her.
Are we willing to open our homes, literally or metaphorically, to someone who may not be able to give anything in return?
"Her hands..." This assumes that the Virtuous Woman was actively engaged with those in need.
Anyone who has experienced mission work understands the blessings YOU receive when you personally touch someone else's life.
For example, my family has sponsored a little girl in El Salvador for years. We feel so much joy in reading her letters and sending love through our words and assistance. Yet, even that does not compare to the feeling of holding a small child in Honduras, telling them about Jesus and hearing them talk about His blessings. There is something profoundly different about the experience of Giving when it is through your hands.
Disclaimer: I used to have grand ideas of "mission work", thinking I had to go to seminary, learn another language, and travel the world to do this. God has shown me what it looks like to minister where I am. Our Bible study the last few years is the perfect example. Being able to share what God has shown me and hearing your amazing stories has given me that same awe-struck wonder in God that I felt in a third-world country.
The idea is to ask the Lord where He wants you to stretch forth your hand. Who does He want you to reach out for? Think about those Gifts He has given and pray about how you can use them!
Who are the Poor and Needy?
- Those with a disability or affliction, someone in distress.
- For the girls in our Bible study, we have been given a gift to help those who are physically oppressed through our education and skill set as physical therapists. Read Ashton's Story for an example.
"... But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee..." - Jesus, Luke 14.13-14
- Those who are defenseless, e.g. widows and orphans.
- Solomon's mother advises him to care for the defenseless though judgment (fairly assessing and acting upon a need).
"Open thy mouth for the dumb (unable to speak) in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy." - Solomon's mother, Proverbs 31.8-9
- Those considered social outcasts.
- Jesus was known for hanging with the "outcasts." Remember that the person sitting across from you or standing on the street corner is also God's creation. He loves them with an infinite and unapproachable Love, the same way He loves you.
"For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, 'Sit thou here in a good place,' and say to the poor, 'Stand thou there,' or 'Sit here under my footstool,' are ye not then partial in yourselves and are become judges of evil thoughts?" - James 2.2-4
- Those who are spiritually oppressed.
- You may not be materially rich, but you may be richly blessed in a spiritual sense. If you know Jesus Christ, no amount of worldly possessions can equal the Love and Security of a relationship with Him. It's our job to minister to the spiritual needs of others, sharing what He has done for us.
"The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." - Jesus, Matthew 11.5
What if we, as PTs, only allowed patients with no comorbidities and no physical impairments onto our caseload. It would not make sense at all. Our job is to help those with limitations, those who are in pain. Jesus was the same way...
"They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." - Jesus, Mark 2.17
To those who know Jesus, remember that we were once poor and needy in a spiritual sense. Jesus has saved us, given us eternity and peace for the moment.
Now it's our turn to pay it forward!
"... For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." - Jesus, Luke 12.48