This is an excerpt from a talk that I gave at Bonny Doon Presbyterian Church, sharing my personal journey and about my work with Spirit in Action. ˜ Tanya
If you’ve ever moved to a new place, you know that it can be really hard. New places can be uncomfortable; they force you to encounter new things and new cultures, even within different regions in the US. You have to find a new grocery store, a new bank, new friends.
And yet these moments when we are lost and lonely are moments when we are perhaps most likely to be touched by one of God’s angels on earth. Rachel has been one of those angels for me. A kind colleague of Boyd’s invited us over for dinner one Friday night. She gave me something to look forward to, she cooked a wonderful meal, and she gave us tips for things to see in the city.
Simple; but her smile makes me feel like we’ve already been friends a long time. And to me, that’s the blessing of moving. That’s experiencing God’s grace and love. If we’re standing in the same place all the time, it’s harder to meet new angels.
In a way, these angels, even though they are not the ones moving to a new place, are being emotionally moved. There are many times in the New Testament where we hear that Jesus was moved with compassion for people.
Del Anderson founded SIA, at the age of 90, as a manifestation of his drive to do good works in the world. He had lived a life filled with challenges – being a bi-racial man growing up in the early 1900s – and also a life filled with blessings.
Del was moved to compassion for people around the world who were lacking basic needs, like food, shelter, and a livelihood. He was moved by his conviction that people had the skills and drive to help themselves, and all they needed was encouragement and tools to get started.
He began his ministry by providing information to people – information about growing more food, making soap, planting fast-growing trees that could be used for lumber, fences, or shade. And sometimes he provided a small grant to help people pursue their dreams and improve their lives. (For more from Del on Compassion, read from his journal here.)
Through this work with Spirit in Action, I am continually inspired by people who are moved with compassion for their community.
For me compassion is embodied in an older woman we met in Kenya. She is a member of a self-help group within the local organization CIFORD Kenya. She is also a grandmother, taking care of five of her grandchildren whose parents died from HIV/AIDS. When I met her, I saw in her the loving kindness that comes from compassionate acts.
She was moved to care for the grandkids even in her older years. And she was at the self-help group (where we met her) because that’s a stressful job. How will I buy school uniforms so that my grandkids can attend school? Who will collect water so that we have clean water to drink?
The blessing is that this group of 20 to 25 guardians is there to support her. Their cooperative movement means that they are all there to support each other emotionally, and also economically, with a small loan fund within the group. And their movement, their action, means that the children are cared for by relatives rather than be sent to terrible, overcrowded orphanages.
As these examples show, being willing to be moved is to embody generosity and to allow yourself to be an angel to someone else.