Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I love this quote by Mother Teresa because it simply defines a lesson I had to learn many years ago about living, loving, and serving in this inner-city neighborhood:

In the West we have a tendency to be profit-oriented, where everything is measured according to the results and we get caught up in being more and more active to generate those results.  In the East, I find that people are more content to just be, to just sit around under a banyan tree for half a day chatting to each other. We Westerners would probably call that wasting time. But there is value to it.  Being with someone, listening without a clock and without anticipation of results, teaches us about love. The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving.

Summer is especially a time that we “sit under the banyan tree” with the neighbors who surround us, with the kids who come through our doors every day, all hours of the day, and we are content to just be…to chat and live our lives casually among them, without a clock, without a school schedule, and nurture relationships. The value of “wasting time.”

Over the past 26 years I have learned that in order to truly change lives, I have to spend what much of our society doesn’t want, or is unable, to spend and that is TIME. It is a significant paradigm shift to make in order to develop meaningful relationships that will change lives for generations to come.

Do I value the poor and fatherless, the street kids, the teenage thugs, the undisciplined and undesirable  enough to spend TIME?  Time, lots of time, translates to mean LIFE. Do I value them enough to spend my LIFE on them?  Their culture is not my culture. Their schedule is not my schedule. What I think are their needs are not necessarily their needs. Their pace is not my pace. Their priorities are not my priorities. Will I sit with them, not watching a clock, and just be with them? Will I love them without expectation?

One thing that makes CROSSFIRE unique is that we live among those we serve. We are neighbors. We share life together.  We don’t always have a program that requires structure and schedule. We can just be…and spend our lives.

When the temperature in July is over 100 degrees, the kids sometimes seem to hibernate during the day and suddenly appear at night – to sit on the front porch with us and chat or play ball in the street in front of the Lion’s Den and guzzle the cold water we hand out to them. Their schedule becomes our schedule. Their pace of life becomes our pace.

Guys show up and “sit under the banyan tree” all day long (our air conditioning is better!) living their lives together as family with each other and with us. It is a peaceful, safe, encouraging environment where “He appears and the soul feels its worth.”

Jesus made disciples by living among those He came to save and serve. He appeared and their souls felt worth as He spent His life with them and loved them.

The success of love is in the loving. As we spend our lives with those God has entrusted to CROSSFIRE, 100% of them are prayed for. 100% of those who come through our doors and are hungry, get fed. 100% of them have time spent on them. 100% of them have the love of Christ demonstrated to them in a wide variety of ways. We are successful.

There is value in wasting time just sitting under the banyan tree – and our poor, fatherless, undisciplined, and sometimes undesirable are worth every moment.