I was so pleased to introduce my friend, Leena Lavanya, to the Bayshore family yesterday. I was equally pleased by the warmth and hospitality with which Bayshore received her. It was a wonderful experience of making new friends across vastly different cultures and celebrating the fact that we all are one in Jesus Christ. Despite what conventional wisdom says, the water of baptism is thicker than the blood of genetics. The family of God transcends all of our artificial barriers and boundaries.
As Leena shared the story of Serve Trust, through which she and her colleagues minister to some of the poorest and most destitute people in the world, I thought about what I hope her testimony will accomplish for us. Frankly, most of us will never travel to India. We’ll never meet the lepers she houses, the abandoned children she sends to school, or the poor villagers to whom she preaches the gospel. So, what good is her story to us?
It is good, I hope, for at least this much: her story reminds us to be open the needs that are around us every day. We do not have to go the other side of the world in order to save someone’s life. It can happen right here, right now, in this little corner of this one neighborhood in which God has planted us.
I was reminded of that yesterday. I took Leena around to visit some of the ministries to which Bayshore is connected. We went to Faith Café at lunch time and watched as our own Aubrey Smith and Clyde Barr, along with other volunteers welcomed 30 or 40 people in from the pouring rain to offer a hot meal, served up with a side dish of dignity and respect. Then we went to Hillsborough House of Hope and saw the incredible work Linda Walker and her organization is doing to restore the lives of women caught in the cycle of drugs, prostitution, and prison. That’s when it hit me: the incredible work that Leena and Serve Trust is doing over in India is also happening right here in our own neighborhoods.
When people respond in faithfulness to the call of God, lives are changed and the kingdom of God becomes just a little more visible. Through simple gestures of compassion and hospitality, the truth of Jesus Christ can be made available to anyone, anywhere.
I am in awe of Leena. I’ve had the privilege of traveling to India to see firsthand the work she is doing, and you cannot experience such a thing without being substantially impacted. But I am also in awe of all the humble servants right here at home who are doing the work of God’s kingdom.
I can only hope that I will one day be found worthy of being counted among the fellowship of such people.
Grace and peace,