Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Love Your Neighbor

This is the picture of the road that my house church is on.
The house backs up to a ravine community. The views were (are?) breathtaking. I remember the first time I went to this house. It was night and I climbed up on the roof and looked at the hillsides and saw the lights on in the homes on those hills. Little lights twinkling in the night. They looked like stars.

Now the view looks like this.
The earthquake decimated this community. Many of the people moved onto the streets. There are now about 500 people living literally in the street around our church. In addition to being a church on Sundays, a missionary couple lives there. All the time. They have a lot of new neighbors. They get along fine. Tim and Carol have huge hearts.

Carol was home during the earthquake. What is more, she was in their bedroom, which overlooks the ravine. She would tell you  her lasting memory is the sound of the buildings behind them breaking up and the people screaming. Their home was fine, only superficial damage, except for their exterior perimeter security wall. It collapsed on all sides, leaving their lot and yard open. Very quickly they had a lot of new neighbors.

The lot next to Tim and Carol's house was empty. Empty space after January 12 was quickly requisitioned by the displaced masses as their new home, and this was no different. Tim said that at his last count, there were 43 tents holding an average of 5 people per tent. They have now stretched tarps over families' tents to block out the sun and the rain.
 What would your reaction have been if very suddenly you had 200 squatters living next door and 500 new neighbors total on your street, on the sidewalks? In your yard? Can you imagine the reaction in the States? And can you imaging the justification for moving them out? "It is not good for them". Bull. It makes you uncomfortable.
Tim and Carol have done none of that. They have loved on their new neighbors with a vigor and a passion that leaves me speechless. Many of the displaced people are kids, and Tim and Carol pass out candy to them on Sundays and play with them in the afternoons. All have food (they cook with charcoal on little stoves right out on the sidewalk), but clean water is tough to get, so Tim and Carol have been paying for a water truck to come regularly. Everyone on the street gets a ticket which is good for 10 gallons. They also mediate disputes. Just a regular community.

The most remarkable part to me is that Tim and Carol do all of this in addition to their regular jobs. Carol teaches with us at QCS and Tim is in construction. Carol teaches 5th and 6th grades all day and then comes home and plays with these children. Tim is helping rebuild an orphanage right now and works long, hard hours. But he still has time to walk to his new neighbors' tents and find out how everyone is doing.
I asked them over lunch this past Sunday how they did it all. They shrugged and said that what they were doing around their home was the fun part of being a missionary. Carol said that, when she prayed at night, she thanked God for the opportunity to help these people like she is.

I was really moved by her compassion and grace. I don't know that I would have blamed her if she said, "But some times it is hard." However, her previous sentence came with no qualifying statement afterward. I also do not know if I would hold it against them if immediately after the earthquake they had lamented their lack of privacy, raised questions about their safety or expressed frustration at their new situation. They have not. They have made the most of out of the situation God placed them in.

I wondered after lunch if there were ministry opportunities I was missing because I had a bad attitude. If there was a situation where I was not showing compassion and grace, and justifying it. What about you?

Tomorrow will show all the pictures from inside the ravine community behind my church/ their house....

Ben

2 comments:

  1. I'm always noticing I need to keep my attitude in check. There's just something about America that makes us feel entitled to just about anything.... especially a safe, comfortable life.

    Thanks for this reminder of how I need to respond to those right out my front and back doors! really... thanks, Ben!

    Kim

    ReplyDelete
  2. These folks sound like heroes amongst heroes.

    ReplyDelete

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