My dear friend Hannah, a Journeyman who works at BIMS, ministers a great deal to kids in a nearby township called Alex. Alex is a dark place. Unemployment, HIV and tuberculosis, poverty, and rape run rampant. Hannah has news every week of some fresh nightmare that took place in the township. A six year old was raped by her uncle. Two children were locked and abandoned in their house for days. A child was covered in boiling water as a form of punishment. A pair of young sisters witnessed their pregnant mother trying to commit suicide. Could a place be more hellish?
Hearing these stories and encountering the very victims week after week induces such a strange emotional storm. Rage, incredibly deep sadness, desperation, hopelessness, confusion, pity. Where and how do you embark on conquering an Everest-sized problem like Alex? In my weak and fallen human condition, my initial reaction is to retreat into blissful ignorance. Pretend these people and problems don't exist so that I am not responsible for them.
My teammates and I have been working in Alex at an non-profit that feeds and nurtures orphans and vulnerable children. The founder of the non-profit is an amazing woman who, after nearly dying of HIV-related complications, vowed to God to use her second chance at life to make a difference in her hometown of Alex. I've been helping her apply for grants, and while we were working last week she expressed a stunning thought. She told me the story of Jesus turning water into wine in John 2. This was the Christ's first miracle -- a monumental occasion. But the Scripture says only the servants were there to witness the event. Not the bridegroom or the master or the guests. Only the servants, who at Jesus' request filled the waterpots, knew how the miracle happened and by whom it was performed. My friend told me that in this life the ones who see the Lord's miracles are the ones who obey His request to serve. Many will benefit from His miracles, but don't you want to witness them as well?
The township of Alex is in need of a miracle. Of a million miracles. I've decided that I want to see them happen. So instead of slinking into ignorance and mental comfort, I'm committing to serve where I can. Our service may not be epic, but we will fill the waterpots nonetheless. What a privilege to be enlisted in God Almighty's restorative work in a place that could appear beyond redemption. I cannot wait to see Alex's oceans of toxic water one day transfigure into fragrant rivers of blood-red wine.
He has done it before.