Venezuela 2013: Shirt Off My Back

We’ve all heard it. “I’d give you the shirt off of my back.” Tonight that really happened.

It would be impossible for me to adequately articulate just how special the people at Iglesias Filadelfia made our team feel this week, and especially tonight. They celebrated us and the work we have done together to the glory of God in a remarkable way.

Tonight as we concluded our time with them the church threw us a special going away party. There were so many people at the church that it was impossible for everyone to fit into the alleyway where we were hosted. Dozens of people waited for pictures with various members of the team as email addresses, mementos, and social media info were swapped.

During this time a young man about twenty years old approached me with his friend who translated. He had been especially blessed by the nightly services we were able to take part in. He wanted to offer me a token of his appreciation. And so, he literally gave me the shirt off of his back because it says “Venezuela” on it.

I was touched. Admittedly, I feel as though my contributions have been small this week. I am mostly here to encourage and document. I offer pastoral input when the opportunities present themselves, but in the grand scheme of this adventure I am a behind-the-curtain kind of guy. Still, he insisted on giving me his shirt. It was an incredibly humbling gesture.

What it taught me is that what I may see as small others see as magnificent. What I might see as routine could be something that is life-changing for another. The next time someone tells me, “I’d give you the shirt off of my back” I’ll have to tell them about this dear fellow I met at a place called Filadelfia in Venezuela.

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