It is exceptionally hot here. The kind of hot that just sticks to you. You can’t escape it, and so you must learn to just accept that as a natural part of this incredible place. That’s a tremendous part of what today’s experience has been about for our team. Some learned something as simple as how to say “hello” in another language. Others learned what it means to humble yourself in an incredible act of loving servanthood and selflessness.
We travelled down cramped and crowded streets, across dusty-dilapidated byways, to an awesome little corner of this rundown community. We were met with the sights, sounds, and smells of a culture far removed from the sensational superficiality so many of us are so accustomed to in the States. There we met electrician-turned-pastor Sanfrido at his small church that doubles as a community center for the neighborhood. The local basketball and volley ball teams were busy practicing on the old neglected courts, and there were children everywhere.
“Nate, can we interact with the kids?” someone asked me. I believe wholeheartedly in leading by example (1 Corinthians 11:1) so I did the only thing I knew how to do. I began to mingle with the gathering crowd; hugging kids, taking their pictures, shaking their hands, or simply asking them their name. There was a collective ripple throughout our group as the team began to realize the importance of simply loving people.
I have preached on numerous occasions to these same students the value of living “an agenda-less faith”, or loving people simply for the sake of loving people, because that’s what Jesus did, and not just because you desire to add them to some obscure measurement of tallied conversions. Today they get it. Many of them are sleeping now as I write this; but they rest in the gracious goodness of the great God who brought them 1,833 miles away from home to teach them the importance of the simplicity of simply loving people.
Today I saw American college students wash the feet of total strangers. I saw guys, that probably don’t even clean their own rooms at home, laboriously pick up trash surrounding a community basketball court. I witnessed shy students turn into fountains of laughter as the contagious reality of a God without borders and boundaries sprang from their soul. Today I learned a lot about these guys and gals, even as I saw them learn so much about themselves.