From Heidi - posted September 2019:
Matthew 25:40 TPT …”Don’t you know? When you cared for one of the least important of these my little ones, my true brothers and sisters, you demonstrated love for me.”
The phrases “be the hands and feet of Jesus” or “Jesus with skin on” can sometimes be overused or even cliché at times, but they are critical concepts when it comes to serving others, especially children. I remember preparing for my first mission trip to Albania. I struggled with the question, “what do you have to offer”, and my first thoughts were “nothing”. I am not a doctor, nurse, teacher, preacher, construction worker, and I have no “skill” that translates into changing someone’s life. I can’t diagnose an illness and prescribe the right medicine. I can’t teach concepts like algebra, geometry, or chemistry. I would rather have a party in H2O’s cylinder with X, Y and Z, and invite some Mc2 to mix it up a bit. My husband, father and brother can each build a home that you would love to live in, but you couldn’t trust me to do the same. As I struggled with what skill I could bring that would be beneficial, I felt a quiet but very clear voice stirring inside me “you can love people”. The more I thought about this, the more confident I became that this is what I was called to do. With this mindset, I made my first trip to Albania and that is where God opened the door for Heart & Home Ministries to become an international children's ministry and begin loving children in other countries.
Having the privilege of serving God by loving children is honestly one of the most wonderful, happiest and most fulfilling experiences I have ever had. It would be second only to marrying my husband, and the birth of my children and grandchildren. When I saw children of the Roma community in Albania, my first thoughts were, they have no one but Jesus. When we come across people who have no one but Jesus, that is when we must become the hands and feet of Jesus or “Jesus with skin on.” Loving and caring for people not only demonstrates God’s love for them, but it also demonstrates our love for Christ.
It truly is so much better to give than to receive. There is nothing so humbling or encouraging at the same time, than to know that God allowed you to be a part of meeting a need for a child or family in poverty. After 13 trips over 4 years to Albania, I had the privilege to develop relationships with some of the most precious children ever. At the end of one particular trip, I along with two very dear friends, Denise and Carol, were having coffee in the city center of Tirana and we literally ran into 4 little girls from one of our feeding programs. The children that were part of our program were sent by their parents to beg on the streets each day and that is what these girls were doing. We couldn’t speak Albanian and they didn’t speak English, but love knows no language barrier. We were so excited that we had one more opportunity to see our precious girls, and after hugs, kisses and lots of laughter, we decided to get ice cream. After ice cream, we decided to take the girls to the nearest market and let them choose a few things. You can imagine the looks we got--3 Americans in the market with 4 little street children, but it was an experience I will never forget. I thought that the girls might want to purchase candy or soda, but I was surprised. They instantly went for the necessary things that would be the most beneficial to their families--pasta, oil, meat, shampoo, and laundry detergent. We had to encourage them to pick out some fruit, and with the help of a store employee who spoke English, we told them we wanted them to pick a special treat for themselves. They instantly went to find the jars of Nutella and each got a jar. As we were shopping, my friend Carol, who I affectionately call my “Sergeant At Arms,” but who is more accurately the voice of reason and practicality, pointed out that we had too many bags and very heavy items for the girls to carry. The oldest girl was 12 years old and the other 3 were ages 4-10. It was getting dark and we were worried about how the girls would get everything back to where they lived, which was at least 2 to 3 miles from the city center. They assured us several times that they could carry the load. We ran into a young lady who knew the girls well and she assured us that it would be okay to let them ride the city bus home. Their bus, however, was coming any minute, so 3 mature ladies and 4 little girls, carrying overloaded bags of groceries, were running down the city streets toward the bus stop. We could see their bus coming and were praying that we would make it in time. We barely made it and had just passed the last bag inside as the doors began to close. We were waving and blowing kisses back and forth with the girls as the bus pulled away from the curb. As we began to slowly catch our breath, and contemplate what I know was a divine appointment, we were overwhelmed with love for those precious girls. We were struck by the fact that these little girls were mindful of the needs of their family, that these little girls were not only carrying the weight of heavy grocery bags, but also the weight of helping their family survive. These little ones wanted to be able to wash their hair with shampoo and their clothes with laundry soap before eating candy or drinking soda. Even though we couldn’t speak each other’s languages, we were able to communicate love in a way that I believe Jesus would have. We are bringing hope to children. We were able to be “Jesus with skin on,” and meet their current needs.
Caring for others, loving others, doesn’t take a specialized skill or specialized education. All that is required is for us to make the choice to love who we can, where we can. It may be in your own home, or someplace miles away, but God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, leads us to the “who” and the “where,” if we are willing to say yes to love.