35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40
This past year we spent a lot of time telling people what we were going to do in South Africa as we thought through the why’s that deeply moved us in this direction of missional living. What I have come to learn since moving to South Africa is, I might have been asking the wrong question. God isn’t as concerned with the what, but rather with the who’s.
Alechia is a who. She is the why behind our move across the world. We believe that God has so wonderfully blessed our family with her! Alechia lights up a room with her smile and draws children in with her loving kindness. Her joy is infectious and you can’t help but to love her. My hope is that everyone who visits gets the chance to meet Alechia, so you can experience how wonderful she is too!
Alechia quickly became a dear person to Lara. She was one of our resident interns last year at East Mountain and comes to us from Trinity Church/Christian School, a community partner of ours. This is where she learned that God has created her for something special, to help teach children about Jesus while caring deeply for them. Alechia has one of those stories that breaks my heart and would break yours if you heard her tell it. Unfortunately, her past is too familiar for many young children, especially girls that grow up here in these communities. What I love most about Alechia is that she is allowing Jesus to make something beautiful out of her story.
In just a couple weeks Lara and I get the privilege of taking Alechia to move into her new college dorm. She starts her first year of university this month and will be the first person ever in her family, and one of the very few from her neighborhood that have had the chance to go to college. This is a big deal for her and she is nervous! We believe in her and know that she can do it. University will prepare her to fulfil her call to serve the Lord and to make a huge difference in the next generation in her community. Once she has completed her studies, Alechia is planning to return to her church to serve as the children’s minister!
I struggle sometimes to clearly explaining our ministry and work here in South Africa. I worry that people might not see the impact and wonder about our effectiveness. Our ministry isn’t as clear cut as some missionaries. We don’t feed hungry children regularly, offer medical care, we aren’t directly planting a church, or ministering in ways that are easy to define. We do have specific jobs and roles within East Mountain and those responsibilities will continue to grow but our main ministry is the relationships around us. Being available, being present, and being life giving to the who’s. We are striving to live a life that offers life to those around us.
We are: a safe place for people to sleep for a couple nights when life gets hard, a place to come and get school work done (we have been blessed with the best internet connection around), a place to have a meal, laugh a little, relax from all of the craziness of life, a place to be refreshed over coffee and late night conversations, a ride to the store, the doctor or home for the weekend, the one to call when you need someone to listen or help with a problem, a voice of wisdom, encouragers, examples, and friends. This is our ministry. This is our life. It’s not a project or a plan. It’s definitely not easy. It’s inconvenient. It’s costly. It’s messy. It’s people. We are called to the who’s.