On a hot sticky day I found myself in a slum. There were other slums in Kakamega but this was the safe one for us to enter, the “nice slum”. The dwellers paid to live there, paid to live within the cramped quarters, amongst rubbish and poverty. Paid for their young ones to be labelled a slum kid.
And on this day, amongst the flies and the smell I found myself with a little girl who would not leave my side and I remember:
Love the one in front of you
I did not know her name, where she lived or who she belonged to. To so many she was merely another slum kid, but to our Father she is so much more. She is a child with a destiny, a purpose and is loved so much that the ultimate sacrifice was paid so that she could have life in abundance.
We are told to pour ourselves out for the hungry (Isaiah 58:10), to comfort those who mourn, loose their chains and declare the year of the Lord’s favour (Isaiah 61:1-2). Our lives should be ones marked with doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly (Micah 6:3). But, far too often, we come face to face with situations where we wonder how it could be possible to live the life that God has called us to. It could be in a slum in Kakamega where poverty and injustice are far too real, at home drowning in housework and stressed by the very real pressures of modern life or at work where our integrity is consistently challenged and we are often too busy to think. But God’s call is simple: love the one in front of you. This was not a day of outrageous miracles or exciting breakthroughs, this was a day of holy, unrelenting love. Where we took the love that God has for us and shared it with those we had the privilege of meeting; bringing light into darkness and hope to the hopeless.
And loving the one in front comes in so many different forms. Whether it is feeding the hungry, a church service in a slum, praying for healing, befriending a CAP client or simply taking the time to just ask someone how they are really doing. It does not have to be half way around the world, but it does have to be deliberate, loving and God centred. On my return from Kenya I find myself challenged by how I use my time and what I do. Is my life focussed on loving the one in front on me or am I too busy with the life that I have to notice the precious lives around me? Do I take the time to show them that their lives (whatever state they are in) are precious enough for God to give his son for, so that they can know Him and experience freedom and joy.
And I will show you my faith by my works