Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grace in Action

A reflection from Anawim Home Team member, Kathi Rogers, on her time serving at Anawim Home:

Traveling to Nigeria has left me with many new memories and impressions. One of the most compelling lessons I learned was inadvertently taught to me by observing Sister Oresoa as she did her work. She likely is unaware of the silent lessons she taught me as I observed her tirelessly providing resources to the needy, regardless of the limitless need. Others may have become frustrated due to the overwhelming and never ending poverty in comparison the restricted resources and limited interest in helping.

Not Sister Oresoa. She continued to persevere, offering each person with whom she came in contact not only food or clothing, but equally important, she provided each individual a healthy dose of hope and kindness. One day, after being particularly saddened by the conditions, the overwhelming need and the recognition of the huge amount of people who were suffering in these conditions, the team discussed the reality of what impact our small group of missionaries could possibly have on helping the people we were serving. I was reminded of a beautiful passage based on a story by Loren Eisely, which a colleague once shared with me:

"There was a man who was walking along a sandy beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. The man observed the boy for a few minutes and then asked what he was doing. The boy replied that he was returning the starfish to the sea, otherwise they would die. The man asked how saving a few, when so many were doomed, would make any difference whatsoever? The boy picked up a starfish and thew it back into the ocean and said "it made a difference to that one..." The man left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said. He soon returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy thrown starfish into the sea."

We can all lean from this philosophy by contributing in some way, everyday, to someone who appears to be struggling. Whether it is a smile to someone who appears downtrodden, serving the needy in Nigeria, or anything in between, a kind gesture that serves to provide dignity and kindness to any individual on any given day, CAN make a difference. We may never be aware of the effect our positive action might have on any particular person, however what I learned in Nigeria is that grace is in the action, not necessarily the outcome.

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