Thursday, January 3, 2019
As I was headed out the door to my bus stop this past Wednesday, I double checked the weather forecast. When I looked, it said nothing about precipitation and it was currently just around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so I felt like I was dressed fine and didn’t need an umbrella.
Then I stepped outside … and it was snowing.
But I shrugged it off because it seemed to be fairly light, and I didn’t think it would be much of a bother.
And about two minutes into my walk, I realized it was not only coming down a bit stronger than I had thought, but it was also that dense kind of snow that has a beady consistency and clings to you when it lands. But it was too late to turn back for an umbrella. So I kept going.
Then as got to the bus stop I realized that I was about five minutes early and the bus was running about five minutes late.
More importantly, I made eye contact with a man, probably in his sixties, who made better judgements than me and brought an umbrella. And as we made eye contact, he smiles and gestures for me to come over and stand under his umbrella with him.
So I walked over, thanked him, and he held his umbrella for the both of us. We struck up a conversation, which was somewhat limited because we both lacked knowledge of each other’s native languages. However, he knew enough English to talk about a few things. I found out his name (Sam) and that he was from Jordan. It seemed that since coming to the States he hadn’t had many connections with family and he was on his own, and there seemed to be some sadness there.
Then the bus came, and we sat next to each other until he got off a few stops later.
Now, while that was possibly the first and only interaction I will have with Sam, the depth of the kindness that he shared is one that I’m not sure I can fully communicate. Even in such a simple act, there was such an openness in his care, an openness that didn’t hesitate for the considerations of a language barrier or any of the other things that would exemplify our differences.
And its willingness to care for people like this that is at the heart of LoopNaz: to look at a stranger and see a neighbor—a fellow human, a valuable life, a life that has been fully recognized by God’s love, compassion, and grace.
This conscientious care is also something that I have seen time and time again in the actions and lives of Prof. Tim and Mary Mercer, who joined Reuben, Corban, and myself for lunch and our prayer walk on Wednesday.
For those of you who don’t know the Mercers, they are retired missionaries to South Korea. And they have both continued on in ministry of care in different forms since returning to the United States, including Prof. Mercer’s service as the Multilanguage Mission Area Leader for the Chicago Central District.
As it happens, Prof. Mercer is also my faculty supervisor for the cross-cultural field experience course that is a big part of the reason for my work with LoopNaz.
Now, besides simply providing an opportunity to share with the Mercer’s about the plans to develop ministries and services through LoopNaz, our time together on Wednesday was also an opportunity to invite those who have gone before us—and are still leading the way—in ministry, to participate with us in the beginnings of the ministry of LoopNaz.
And I think there is something significant in this, to invite in the wisdom and care of those who have persevered first, and specifically those who have shared missional callings within the Church of the Nazarene.