Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friends and Neighbors

I am reading a bunch of books and doing a whole lot of things.  God, in his usual marvelous way, is orchestrating it all.  I will share two little things here about friends and neighbors that I've read or experienced and heard but I won't share my takeaways; I'm going to let you, led by the Holy Spirit, dot the i's, cross the t's and make all the connections for your very own experience of our loving Triune God.

1) The first is part of a speech given by Bishop VS Azariah at the first World Missionary Conference (Edinburgh, 1910). The Bishop of the fledgling Church of South India (a new church compared to the many Western churches whose representatives were at the conference) gave a speech from which the following excerpt has often been remembered and quoted in the history books. I love it!

"I do not plead for returning calls, handshakes, chairs, dinners and teas as such. I do on the other hand plead for all of them and more if they can be expressions of a friendly feeling, if these or anything else can be the outward proofs of a real willingness on the part of the foreign missionary to show that he is in the midst of the people to be to them not a lord and master but a brother and a friend.

Through all the ages to come the Indian Church will rise up in gratitude to attest the heroism and self denying labors of the missionary body. You have given your goods to feed the poor. You have given your bodies to be burned. We ask for love. Give us friends.  -V.S. Azariah, Edinburgh, 1910.

2) Early this morning, I was part of a small group in my church practicing the ancient discipline of christian hospitality and I met a woman who used to be one of my unknown neighbors in the city I love and live. She does not live here anymore because as she shared:  "Its been a slow slide - 17 years or more - that's brought me here today for a $20 grocery voucher. My family took care of my mother and by the time she died all our savings and retirement resources were gone. Then, the recession hit us. I have a room which I am able to rent and friends who are doing well give me personal assistance jobs so they can pay me. Its not always enough But God provides. Always. Whenever I need something He provides - like this grocery check which will see me through until Wednesday. I'm taken care of. I'm ok."

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