During July, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip with my church to Romania. While we were there, we worked with an organization called Project Ruth, which ministers primarily to the Roma people, or gypsies. Project Ruth encompasses a wide range of projects and ministries, but on this particular trip we worked with their school. Our team, along with a few other missionaries and translators, took a group of children from the school to a weeklong sleep away camp. Throughout the week we led Bible Study, crafts, recreation, electives, and other fun activities like a talent show, campfire, and even a dance party. For the majority of the kids on the trip, that week was a once in a lifetime experience, and they had a BLAST! (So did we, of course.) And we fell in love with the kids. I mean, just look at these sweet faces…
Every time I have the opportunity to travel, I’m reminded of two truths: the world is so much bigger than my view of the world, and God is so much bigger than my view of God. If we’re not careful, we can forget that. We start to imagine that the world is really just the way see it, the way we experience it. And we can turn God into our own small version of who we think he is, who we think he loves, and what we think he can do. But I watched these kids, whose world is so very different from my own, worship God with gladness and gratitude. I watched them embrace us and love us with abandon, even though we didn’t know one another or speak the same language. I watched as God worked in our hearts and theirs, changing us along the way.
As I’ve read the stories and seen the images coming out of Charlottesville over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about Romania and these kids and love. Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the to the human heart than its opposite.”
In Romania, I was reminded of the truth of those words—that love indeed does come naturally. We didn’t speak the same language. We couldn’t share stories or jokes or even prayers. But we loved. And they taught me something about God’s love, too.
More than anything, I want to be a teacher of love today. I want to speak the truth boldly and denounce hatred clearly and loudly. I want to be an instrument of peace in the world. That’s my prayer for today.