Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Heart for Others - it's a Lifestyle

Today I went down to Martha's Table to help serve supper to those in need.  I was privileged to meet a young University student who was volunteering for the first time.  In only 2 hours together this young girl, left quite an impression on me.

Through our introductions, I learned that she was enrolled in the religion program at school, which made it easy for me to respond that I was a pastor, when she asked what it was that I did.  (She thought I was a student as well - That made my

It wasn't however, her kind remarks about my youthful looks that left an impression.  Her heart for others was so vivid.  I remember when I was in Africa, one of the workers had a shirt that said "Heart for Others - it's a lifestyle". I loved that shirt and subsequently was given one to take back with me to Canada.  My co-volunteer today, exemplified that saying.  Her heart for others was being lived out in front of my eyes.

Here she was volunteering, on her own volition, not for community service hours, or as part of her program, but simply because she wanted to help those in need. Even with a busy work and school schedule, she still took time to come and serve others.  In fact as we came to the end of our shift at 5:30pm she was preparing to run home to get her books to make her evening class.  While this was her first time volunteering at Martha's, it will not be her last, before she left she made sure to sign up to volunteer again next week!

She was a very personable young lady with a sweet demeanor and her concern for the clients was genuine.  She wanted them to be blessed. During her first shift, she expressed a desire to be able to get her workplace (a local restaurant) to come together as a team to do the cooking, cleaning and hosting of a gourmet meal for the clients. Her concern however, extended beyond just the clients.  She engaged the volunteers around her in conversation, and took the time to inquire about their lives, actively listening to all they had to share.  Half way through our shift, she casually made the statement that making personalized aprons might be a suitable gift to give each of the volunteers as a thank-you.  Here she is, on her first day, a heart full of compassion wanting not only that the clients be blessed, but the volunteers to feel loved and appreciated as well.

We carried on our conversation and talked about boys, as single girls sometimes do.  I told her about a series my girlfriends and I are doing on relationships, sharing a funny 6 minute diatribe by Perry Noble about how men should pursue - women (I feel like I should bold that  It was a great, light conversation that took an unexpected turn as I talked about how men primarily need to feel respected, and women primarily want to feel loved, not at the exclusion of one to the other of course.  She said, she had never thought of it like that, but that it made sense. This opened the door to more casual talks of religion, service and God.

She confessed that she was liberal in her religious beliefs.  While she held her beliefs in God and her religion, she also respected the rights that others had to their own beliefs, and felt that all religions could co-exist together.  Through our conversation it became clear to me that we may have some differences in understanding. I too agree that everyone has the right to believe what they choose.  I believe as humans we need to co-exist amicably, however, given the vast foundational differences amongst the various religions of the world, it is impossible for them each to co-exist with equal footing.   They can not all be equally valid, since their espoused truths are sometimes diametrically opposed. As a Christian, I believe that there is one God, and He in his goodness and grace, married His perfect justice with His perfect love, by sending His Son to be the Saviour of all - the complete and all encompassing sacrifice, that allows any one, the opportunity to enter into a relationship with Him. "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me".  Any religion which does not ascribe to this, contradicts the essence of my faith and therefore cannot co-exist in foundational harmony. That being said,  having just met, I was not about to enter into a theological debate with her, I am sure she gets enough of that from her atheist religion professors.  Through our thoroughly enjoyable conversation we agreed that the best way to preach is through our own lives, sharing the gospel, using words only when necessary.  Greater than our differences was that we connected on our love of God and others. I look forward to working with her and enjoying some great conversations over the steam table once again, who knows what God will reveal to each of us, or how this relationship will serve to draw us each closer to God.

As I left Martha's table I couldn't help but think, how by simply taking 2 hours out of my day, I was able to not only help others, but increase my sphere of influence. I have now made a connection with someone new, and through that connection was able to be blessed, and perhaps be a blessing.  How do we change the world? By investing in others, the dividends are priceless and unlike any other commodity - last into eternity!

Abandon your lesser visions in favor of living life the way God intended … with one eye on him, one eye on the people he loves, and a heart that beats fast for kingdom-building activity.  Live in light of the reality that the only thing you can take to heaven are the people whose lives you touch!  Throw your one and only life — all of your energies, your resources, your passion — into making a difference with people, and you will one day say, “Now that was a life well-lived!” ~ Bill Hybels/Just Walk Across the Room

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