I love the internet most of the time. One can experience the entire range of emotions without leaving a comfy chair or even changing out of pajamas!
One of the neatest thing about it are the interactive websites and blogs where community begins to form. One of those is freecycle. I know I've written about it before -- from the perspective of cleaning out my house. But I recently learned from a freecycle "friend" how the items she is accumulating are being used. I posted an offer of a small Ikea lamp that was brand new in the box. She responded asking for it for an immigrant family she was helping to resettle. Intrigued, I asked if there was anything else we could provide in addition to the light. She e-mailed me a short description of what they need (linens) and this story. I've x-d some things to protect the family:
The dad in this family was assisted in escaping from the conflict in ***** by some people in an NGO. One of these folks gave the dad a slip of paper with the name and address of our church and told him that we would help him if he could get to us.
He was given a one-way ticket to JFK and $450 in cash. He went to the taxi line, showed them his paper and finally got one of the drivers to bring him to *****, leaving him with about $25 (good thing ***** isn't in California.) We have NO IDEA who sent him to us, or why, but we now just assume it's a God thing.
Dad was granted asylum. After that, he worked, put himself through school and petitioned to bring his wife and two children here. Now, four years later, they are reunited.
We have learned a lot from this experience, including that God doesn't just want us to work for others when we decide it's convenient, or when those in need are particularly appealing, or schooled in gratitude. This has been a very difficult lesson for some of us. It has been an informal sort of project at the church. We passed ***** around a lot during the 2 years it took him to get asylum.
I wonder whether I would have the staying power to hang in there when, as my friend says, those in need aren't particularly appealing or schooled in gratitude. I'm afraid, when I look back at how I've helped others, it has often been with a box-checking attitude. There was joy in the doing, but I was always relieved when it was 'finished.'
Lord, forgive me for the times you've sent me one of your lambs and I've not found it convenient to help in the way you've shown me to do. You know my heart and I sincerely apologize for the yuck you see there. Help me to do better. Amen