As the Spiritual Life Director at Lititz Christian and high school Bible teacher for 18 years, one of the greatest challenges for me is to be transparent with others. Too many times I’ve seen pastors and leaders show vulnerability and areas of weakness, even ask forgiveness, and then have that exploited by others for judgment and condemnation. I have to fight creating a “perfect” bubble and keeping those I’m ministering to at arm’s length. It’s tough to do, to be honest. I’ve done this to others also. I’ve used another leaders moment of vulnerability as an opportunity to show myself as “better”, but this has no place in the body of Christ.
Ministry is a dirty trade. How can we show others the way of Christ’s salvation and freedom from the chains of sin, if we aren’t willing to show our own path of death to life in Christ? How can we speak truth to anyone if we cannot maintain close enough relationships to gently hold a friend’s face, look into their eyes and share our heart?
This week has been the essence of ministry for this team. These seniors have held these precious children in their arms and, with the dirty hands of the children on their faces, have opened up their hearts. And for some of these children, this even means sharing with their new American (and other) friends some of the difficulties that they face daily at home – poverty, violence, and dysfunction.
Today, our seniors had an incredible opportunity to go into the elementary school in Bethania and share a piece their own story, struggles with sin and God’s work of redemption in their lives. The gospel was clearly shared with each grade in each classroom. There was transparency, honesty and a clear message of the hope of the Gospel. You would have been so proud! This time in the classroom smoothly transitioned to our time after lunch with the children in the Clubhouse program.
Life on life, dirty hands and all, just the way Jesus intended when He said in II Thessalonians 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” It’s not something that comes naturally. We lean toward selfishness and pride, but God desires us to be intention in showing His love and patience with others. We ALL have dirt on our faces. When we finally admit this fact and allow God’s grace to be greater than all of our sin, then walls will fall down for His Spirit to lead others from slaves of sin to His kingdom of light.
PS: You may have heard of the fire at an orphanage in Guatemala City that killed 19(+) people. This happened in a completely different part of the city from which we are staying and ministering. However, our translator mentioned today that that orphanage is known for its corruption and abusive treatment of its residents – please be in prayer for those affected, and that this heartbreaking event will be the catalyst for change.