By Peyton Wells
Acts4Youth volunteer and intern
I was at a conference once, and I met this guy who lived among the homeless for a year to live out the Gospel. I was excited to have a chance to hear his story and understand his heart. I was itching to hear the impact he had, and hopefully receive some type of blueprint for the whole thing.
I’ll never forget what he said to me. It really struck home. I was eighteen years old, so pretty impressionable; young; and in love with Jesus, but still unaware that the blueprint to loving people was to just love them. (See 1 Corinthians 13.) I was just entering into some semblance of adulthood and wanted to know how to leave some type of Jesus mark on the culture with no actual clue how to go about that. All I knew was what Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
The honesty in his answer struck me. He said, “Man, I started off with the idea of being homeless and I thought I was just going to Billy Graham everybody in the homeless community. I had this plan to preach, have people listen to me and stir everything up.” He went on to explain that ego gets in the way of loving people and the only solution that can rectify something so antithetical to God’s plan for how to love, is to go out and serve. His experience humbled him and deeply moved me, just through his recount. He explained that he ended up learning more than he did teaching.
His words touched me. He went on to say that something tragic happened to a friend of his that he had made during his homeless journey. He said that all he could do was crack open a beer with the guy and grieve with him. His friend didn’t say much of anything, and that was exactly what the guy needed, a friend. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
His friend didn’t need to be made into a project or a cool story that touches other people’s hearts, he needed someone to just be with him where he was. That moment left fingerprints on my life. If I want to make any type of real impact in the culture, I need to focus on the one. It’s easy to look at kids at inner city schools and label them negatively if they act out or don’t show reverence for our lessons or rules. Jesus says he is with them and he loves them, and if I want to follow him, I can’t label his children. Matthew 18:12 says, “”What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”
Serving has this ability to purify motives in the process. When I experience the suffering of my fellow man, I cannot help but be moved. This has been true in my time serving with Acts4Youth. When I hear that a student’s father is in jail, and they share a moment with another classmate who can relate, I stop talking and I gulp deeply. All I can do is listen and be there as they explain out their feelings. The end goal is to push them a little closer to Christ, but they aren’t my short term project, so often times I just try and listen. Each one of us, including the youth, are in a lifelong journey in knowing Jesus. I want to help others make that journey any way I can. That’s my job as a Christ follower, to make him known to the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
As I was beginning to learn how to serve as a young adult, the original plan ended up having a lot to do with my own self exaltation. I have found myself caught up in an agenda that wasn’t helpful for my growth or for the growth of the people around me. (Ephesians 4:29) If anyone else struggles with pride and learning how to truly selflessly love their fellow man, this post is for you. Actually going out and being the hands and feet of Jesus humbles the human heart. As we pursue real life scenarios with people who need help, we receive help. Ironic!
Kevin Good, Acts4Youth’s founder and executive director, put it like this:
“We need to have a Holy curiosity and its good for Christians to have… in the midst of a class of thirty. We aren’t trying to get into a kid’s business so we can put it on Facebook and for people to know I am such a nice guy. It’s a Holy curiosity that really focuses on wanting to get to know their story and what is behind it. This gives us the opportunity to direct them towards Christ.”
Do we have Holy Curiosity to authentically love the people around us in need?