On Thursdays, everyone in training takes a day off from classes and chores to go into the Abbeville community to serve and minister to the people. It is quickly becoming one of the things I look most forward to. Each week, I am assigned to go to the Christian Service Center and volunteer during their weekly free Pregnancy Clinic. The Christian Service Center is run by the local Catholic church, and acts as a food pantry, free café, and bill assistance for the local community. On Thursdays though, they have begun a new program to help support pregnant mothers and their families.
Each Thursday, I am humbled and edified by the strength and resolve of these women we minister to. I get to talk with the mothers while they wait, play with their children, and most importantly pray with them. Many of them lack a support system, have no income, are living on food stamps, suffer from mental illness, are raising two other kids at home, are living in unsafe situations, and find themselves pregnant again. I know that I cannot begin to understand their situation, but I can allow their suffering and injustice to be mine. I can speak a message of hope and consolation to their hearts. I can share with them the one who is Healer of the brokenhearted, the sick, and the suffering. I know it is Jesus who can heal them. He can bring them courage, peace, safety, freedom, strength, and restore them to new life.
As for me, I get to be a friendly face, or smile that they don’t often get to see. I get to listen to them, to ask them questions and show them their dignity. I get to be compassion and understanding. Hope and support. I get to celebrate in their victories. I get to celebrate in the new life they are preparing to bring into the world. I get to congratulate them. To praise them. And most importantly, to love them.
These last couple weeks I have been keenly aware of the suffering around me both in the Abbeville community and in my fellow ‘missionaries in training’. While preparing for missions, I‘ve been praying that the Lord will increase the capacity of my heart to love and give me an insatiable zeal for souls. That He might give great compassion and a heart that breaks for my fellow man. Already now, I think He has began answering this prayer.
However, at the same time that my eyes are being opened and heart is growing, doubt has found a way of sneaking in. I found myself in prayer this week asking God why. Why do these woman suffer in this way? Why are my own new friends and family suffering and downtrodden? Why is following you so hard at times? Why does it hurt to love? Why is life so messy?
And as I sat in the chapel staring at the cross I got my answer.
Jesus’s crucifixion was messy. Jesus left a messy trail of blood and sweat all the way to Calvary…but death did not overcome Him, and He Sanctified the soil He bled on!
If He is our example, then we too are called to live this messy life with Him and for Him. We are called in blood, sweat, and tears to love so deeply and radically that the soil we walk on is sanctified. What a call! What a call for the whole Body of Christ.
Jesus Christ crucified is our hope, strength, and freedom. Let us cling tightly to His promise of everlasting life; to hope in the days where there will be no more pain and suffering. Let us carry our crosses all the way to heaven, not afraid of the mess, not afraid to let others see us, and not afraid to get dirty helping our fellow brothers and sisters out.
Jesus, you are beautiful. Life with you is a beautiful messy adventure!
In Abundant Mercy,