Posted by: howvoicebegan | 31/10/2010

Becoming People-Oriented

On Friday a group of us met for the new disabled children’s home that has been progressing over the months I have been here. Busi, the woman who is running the home, has been eagerly anticipating the November 1 opening date.
Instead, on Friday she had to tell the mothers of the children that the opening will be further delayed. The house stands completed yet empty; the last of the major fundraising to do is in furnishing the home in a way that is appropriate for facilitating children with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy.

Given that I have plenty of other tasks set ahead of me, I had been stifling Busi’s requests to help with fundraising and nutrition support to open the house. She invited me to the Friday meeting with the parents so that we could all be on the same page about what is going on in the home.
After a formal discussion of the purpose of the home, the room was informally opened to other discussion. It was in this discussion that I realized the depth of the need of this home. One mother cried as she tried to explain the simple need her child has of bibs to keep clean. Another mother expressed concern because her child has a gastric feeding tube. All of them expressed excitement about the home opening and frustration with its delay.
The house is not a replacement parenting centre; the children are not being dropped off, never to be seen again by the parents. Rather, it is a place where trained professionals can work with the children to gain skills and ease the burden of parenting on mothers who have more children to take care of or are struggling financially because they cannot work due to taking care of a disabled child.

After hearing only a few of the stories, I finally saw the need through the eyes of Christ. When I approach the house as a “task-oriented” person (which I am), it becomes another item simply on a to-do list. Thus, the people affected by the house are easily seen as part of the process. But, in hearing their stories, my focus shifted to a people-oriented position. There are real people with real needs beyond furnishing a home or designing a meal plan. This is obvious, but so often we need a reality check to truly look past our tasks and into others. Suddenly, fundraising and meal planning became more complex, more urgent, and more time-invoking.

I look at my long list of things to do and feel a bit of stress as I add “Fundraise for furnishings” to it. It’s something I immediately fall to prayer in. I can’t fundraise but God can. I don’t have the time for it in my busy schedule, but God will perfectly place the time.

God wants me to learn several things through this process—it is just a mini-lesson of what I am continually learning while serving in South Africa.
For one, I must rely to the uttermost on Him alone. None of my efforts have been successful in my own hands, but only by His hands. He makes a point of this by giving me the impossible and tasks that are beyond my experience—and then He completes them when I come to him in prayer and faith. Furnishing a disabled children’s home? I can’t do it, but I’ll certainly be there for the ride.

Two, loving and serving is a lifelong lesson that I am getting a healthy dose of while here. I’m not in stride with 1 Corinthians 12-13 when I put off what work I can do to help other members in the body of Christ complete their work. Busi has a deep calling to serve an often difficult population, and I am unloving to her and to those in her ministry when I put them aside for my “greater” tasks.  In the natural flow of the letter to the Corinthians, the concept of a body working together flows directly into the purpose of love supporting it. We all play our roles, and the “most excellent way” is through love.

I thank God for the meeting with the parents, who turned it from a building to a home and from a ministry to people. Now when I serve, I will serve in the greatest way: through love.

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