Tears fell down my face as we huddled around the family of eight to pray. I somewhat frantically brushed my tears away because I didn’t want this couple’s children (six boys, ranging from age 3-14) to see my tears and mistake them for pity. For the past twelve years, this family has been living in a self-made shack inside an abandoned and dilapidated old movie theater in Romania. There is no electricity or running water inside this building—and when European Initiative’s Director, Jeff Serio, and another team member visited them just the day before, the family had run out of wood and was chopping apart one of their beds just so they could build a fire. The winter can be harsh and cruel for the poor in Romania.
Thankfully, the parents of these children had prayed to receive the Lord the previous day! Our return the second day was to pray for them again and offer some further humanitarian relief. The pastor of a local church had been made aware of their desperate situation and not even 24 hours later, dropped off enough firewood to help them make it through the cold winter months. Despite this knowledge, I still couldn’t keep the tears from falling – their poverty pierced me. I could only tell God how sorry I was for having and keeping so much, at times wanting even more, when others have so precious little.
I don’t believe the Lord condemns us for living in prosperity. Like a good Father, He loves to lavish His love and blessing upon us. Yet we do Christianity a great injustice if we end the Gospel message there. As His disciple John said, “We love Him because He first loved us.” If we truly understand and have a revelation of His love, there should be something in us that longs to give everything we are back to Him in return.
Mother Teresa is one of my heroes. She loved and gave herself to the poor with a magnitude that is nearly unrivalled. She told a story once of riding a train and being overwhelmed by the number of beggars she saw as she looked out the window. She then heard a voice within say,
“My dear, you must see your beloved Jesus in each one of these miserable people. You must love that Jesus, serve that Jesus and look after that Jesus. Never forget His voice when He says, “whenever you did it for the least of these My brothers, you did it for Me.”
I pray to see Jesus in the faces of the poor in the same way Mother Teresa saw Him. While I don’t know entirely what it looks like, I want to love Jesus so much that I will never say no to Him. Because at the end of the day that’s what this life is all about. Loving the One who first loved us. May His grace help each one of us abound in His love, not only for ourselves but also for others.