Back to the Basics: stopping for the one
I’m beginning to realize more and more what my role will look like these next six months. Having been here for a week and a half, it had seemed that i had put almost all of my attention on running community projects. And i knew this moment would come (and similar moments of epiphany are inevitable and yet to come)!–when i realize that none of my work matters if i neglect the one. Yesterday (Tuesday, January 15) was a day full of stopping for ones, just as had been so heavily emphasized during my time with Iris Ministries in Mozambique, Africa.
Heidi Baker, founder of Iris Ministries, replicated the closest version of Jesus’ love i had ever seen: raw, real, practical, radical, dirty. Her ministry has bureaucracy out the wazoo, and it’s necessary to make sure the machine keeps working as 10,000+ kids got fed every day. But Heidi Baker is the loophole, because she’s built such a profound reputation out there in Africa of stopping for the one (and the line outside of her office door hours before she comes in is proof, as is her propensity to be absent from her office and, literally, in the dirt with the people). She cites Jesus as her example and the story of Him rummaging through a crowd. As his disciples hurried him through the mob to get on with the next ministry project, Jesus had the presence of mind to be sensitive enough to feel a tug on the hem of his garment. And He stopped for her. Most of the time, that’s all there is to ministry. The Project’s intentions are worthless if we forget the Purpose or the People.
So i’ve been busy and worried about all of the projects–wondering whether six months is long enough, whether i’ve got the resources, wrestling with the balance between imposition and influence on a foreign culture, frustration with my Spanish, considerations of inadequate book-smarts, etc. etc. Yesterday was an application of brakes and focus. Rudy, my translator, and i made it out for the neighboring village of Pichiche. I played guitar and sang some English and Spanish songs in the afternoon in what would have been an empty church if it weren’t for us and the Pastor’s wife. Afterwards, we headed out to the village for some door-to-door ministry (not my favorite kind, if you know me well, but i also know that God can use it). And with every stop, i very simply had impressions and a tugging on my heart to get to know these people, these ones. I welcomed the Holy Spirit to meet us there. I believe He did. We stopped and listened to their stories and their concerns. They were quite open.
That evening we stayed in Pichiche for a church service. Afterwards, they honored me with an offering. Memories from August flooded my mind as i remembered the potential of El Salvador to give back in abundance during moments in which we were expecting to be doing the giving. It’s humbling. It really is.
I got back and spent a few hours with one of my more personal friends so far in El Salvador as he wrestled with some personal issues. He recounted all of the “coincidental” ways in which my arrival was so timely–to the day–for him. I told him the projects are a waste if i ignore moments like this. If his mentorship is the only thing that works out from this trip, it’s worth it.