For four days straight. She cooks. Dishes piled high. In an unknown orphanage. Plane ride and a long drive in from Shanghai.
Invisible to the western world. Name unknown. Meek. Quiet. Serene. Uneducated.
Embodying Christ with her disposition. Heart, service oriented. Feeding children.
The broken. Helping her. Smiling. Stacking dishes alongside her. Willingly.
Upon leaving, after being camped in a refuge for the unwanted for four days, I pull out the face of Benjamin Franklin. And offer it to her, eagerly.
I beg. Literally beg for her to take it. I insist.
She refuses again. She won’t take it.
I stand. Confused.
Why, in a culture struggling to buy shoes, a place where orphans sit in dirty, mismatched clothes, teeth un-brushed, a world away from Western civilization, does she not leap for, embrace, and rejoice in what I offer her….
Head bows. I climb the stairs of regret, tuck in my tail, and head back to my room.
And it is there, I catch on. Repent. Fully. Completely. Utterly shocked at my arrogance.
Offering money because her unseen, underpaid, unappreciated life seems to me to need more.
And what am I saying about our nation? Our people? Despising selfless commitment, obedience. Offering money in place of a humble heart leading to Jesus.
Where did it all go wrong? Christianity pointing more toward materialism than representing our crucifix.
Where true deliverance lies.
And I realize in China revival sweeps effortlessly across the isles of unchained hearts. Hearts humble.
Hearts unlike mine.
Revival found in those having nothing, needing everything. Instead of those settling for simply, one hundred dollar bills.
And I think about the wedding banquet. The feast of God that calls all people. The many. The chosen. And how only those most broken came to the table willingly eating.
The most unflattering, humble, unlikely people. Like cooks in kitchens in orphanages no one sees. Or the mother in a nursery, rocking her infant as she sings. Or the dad sacrificing, working faithfully to care for his family.
While those already pleasing themselves, having everything, often fail to enjoy the feast.
And I realize I am, have been, and can be as those already full. Satisfied with temporary, fading spoil. Excepting substitutes that lull me into ease. Instead of scrubbing my heart and embracing the crucified way to the cross of Jesus.
Evangelist Paul Washer has said about missions, “You’re either called to go down into the well or you’re called to hold the rope for those who go down. Either way, there should be scars on your hands.”
And where along the way did our culture create a gospel that doesn’t hurt? A gospel that leaves no scars? A gospel that doesn’t require any more of us…..than easy?
Where did we get comfortable? Stop loving because it’s inconvenient? Hesitate serving, like the orphan trapped in poverty, doing dishes willingly, out of love for the cook.
And while I got it wrong, I still long to stand alongside. Selflessly serving whoever God puts in my life. Spouse. Children. Community.
I apply for my visa to return to a country where selfishness is almost seen as a curse. Humility, not some legalistic bondage to the Word……but a lifestyle.
I go this time wanting to hear what Christ says to His church. With the true gospel of love leading to good works. A teachable spirit. Praying fervently. Willing…..to get scars on my hands for the sake of His truth.
Standing alongside other people. Humbly. Doing dishes.
Instead of simply handing out money.
And calling it missions.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented twelve children; ten foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world so desperate for the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women's. Jen continues to cling to faith that the local church is God's vehicle to reach the nations. You can find Jen writing about faith and challenging her readers at her blog,Rich Faith Rising. As well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Also, on facebook.
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