I serve in the social services sector and a big part of my work requires me to support vulnerable communities overseas, together with my volunteers.
Serving the nations has shown me that no human being is better than the other. Those who are more privileged could use their resources to care for those in need. Those in a seemingly “less privileged” position can teach the rest of us a thing or two about heart values that many of us seek for a lifetime.
In April 2016, a series of earthquakes hit southern Japan. Wanting to help, we connected with a local church and alongside a few volunteers, we flew over to support in the relief efforts. The church members introduced us to the staff of a temporary Disaster Relief Center (DRC), and we’ve partnered them ever since.
As last year drew to a close, it was by far the most tiring one of my life. I was burnt out from work and ministry. Giving was a big part of my life, and even though in Acts 20:35 the Apostle Paul encourages us that “we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” – I did not feel that way.
In fact, there were plenty of times where I bawled my eyes out the moment I landed in Singapore because I felt so burdened. I was an absent leader to a cell group I could not mentor regularly due to the frequent travelling. Work, though meaningful and truly enjoyable, could not replace the guilt and void in my heart.
It was tough.
As I reflected on the year, God gave me an epiphany during a work trip. He showed me that each of us is very much like the DRC my team served at. Like every relief centre, we too are stories of joy and pain contained in human form. People who enter our lives are like “volunteers” sent by Jesus Christ Himself to support the restorative works going on within us. Friends are His way of saying, “I love you”.
As much as I enjoyed helping others, I was also a DRC in need of help and support. Giving was important, but so was receiving. The latter, however, was not something natural for me. I had to acknowledge that help was needed before help could be given.
Even if the help extended during certain points in time did not seem effective, it still turned out necessary for a greater, unforeseen restoration to be accomplished.
For some of us, it is easier to give love than it is to receive it. But I’ve learnt that receiving love is an acknowledgement that the Greatest Love is at work in our lives. The most comforting thing about each God-made DRC – you and me – is that Jesus is the centre of it all.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)
This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition Thir.st “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.