Posted by: tranalist | April 17, 2008

Seeing a need…

The other day, a friend was sharing with me about something that reminded me of a similar situation I faced in Africa…

Across the street from the center we stayed at was a very nice resort hotel. A group of us had been praying that God would use us as He saw fit to reach out to and love people, not just the locals, but anyone, including those staying at the hotel.

A few days later we met two brothers, 18 and 26, from South Africa who were working for a few months at the resort. Brother 1 had just led Brother 2 to Christ and both were in desperate need of some good Christian fellowship.

I looked around and no male from our center was stepping up to reach out to these two men. No one would talk to them, no one except two young girls with hearts wanting to help–my girlfriend and myself.

I clearly remember mulling over the decision that laid before me, weighing the possible consequences of my actions. I knew how this could look. I knew how people could talk and I faced a very difficult crossroads.

Do I, as a woman, refuse to spend time with two males who need to be shown God’s love, because of what it could look like? Or do I as a Christian, continue to love and pour into these two brothers, trusting that God will transform their lives, regardless of my being a girl?

I knew my heart, felt God’s leading, and made my choice.

Because of that decision, my girlfriend and I were tainted by association. People talked. Rumors spread. People were asking why we had even come to Africa, and there was even someone who thought we were sleeping with them (because two cute girls have only one reason to spend time with two cute boys).

I was called a floozy. I was told I was throwing myself at them. I was told that my actions made people sick.

Not once was I asked my side of the story. Not once was I asked for the truth or an explaination. I was being judged completely on supposition.

My heart was devastated. Completely broken.

How could the heart behind my actions be so completely misunderstood? I was left dumbfounded.

“Lara, if they knew you, they would know the truth,” my friends would say to comfort me.

I remember experiencing frustration, sadness, disappointment, even anger that the people in our camp failed to see the obvious need in these Brothers’ lives and step up to do anything about it. No man came alongside them to offer their friendship, and only a handful of the actual mothers in the camp made an effort to reach out to them, which meant so much to these brothers when they did.

Instead, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of two women, a responsibility they didn’t ask for, a situation they knew didn’t offer the healthiest dynamic, but they saw the need and, however right or wrong, chose to meet it.

What the other people didn’t know is that when my girlfriend and I spent each day with them, we talked about God, we read the bible, we had worship times. We introduced them to “mothers” who were able to pour into their lives for the 3 short months we were there. We even were able to bring them to church a few times before they started feeling unwelcome.

Because of the relationship that was being built, the trust that was forming, we were able to call them out on things that needed to be addressed in their lives, and they were able to receive it, because they knew our hearts were for them.

We didn’t always make sound decisions and mistakes were definitely made along the way, but we were trying to live the gospel, to sow seeds.

Should the good Samaritan not have stopped to help the man on the road, because the two cultures didn’t mingle at that time?

It’s a tough question.

Sometimes I think that the right thing to do isn’t always the popular thing to do.

But when did Jesus ever do what was popular? It’s an interesting thing to ponder.

I do know that through all the pain I experienced from being alienated and misunderstood, God wanted to teach me to listen to His Spirit and be willing to follow His leading, to love those who are causing the pain, and to overcome my fear of man. We must make sure we do things for the approval of God, not man, and hope that the two meet in a healthy balance.

Mistakes will be made. Walking with Him involves a learning curve. But God knows the heart behind our actions and hopefully it will always be love that motivates us.

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