Jesus looked at them .. Jesus looked at him and loved him….Jesus looked directly at them … (from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke)
We were just on our way out to teach another class at JAMI when we saw the young woman who cleans our apartment building. “Bom dia, tudo bem?” (“good morning, everything’s OK?”) we both called out. We exchanged names and then, to our surprise, she commented, “you’re missionaries, aren’t you?” We both looked dumbfounded. “Yes, we are…..How did you know? Is it written on our foreheads?” we joked. Her reply literally stopped us in our tracks. “You just look at me differently. You look me in the eye. Other people ignore me.”
There are many “invisible people” around us every day – the clerk at the grocery store, the young man who picks up the garbage, the homeless woman on the street. It is perilously easy to close our eyes and our hearts to them, something Jesus never did. Jesus looked at those forgotten or rejected by others – and he loved them.
As part of our Missão Integral (holistic mission) course at JAMI, we recently took our missionaries in training to spend the day at a church in a (urban slum). This church ministers to the invisible people in that part of the city. Her members are from very poor families; many are former drug dealers, assassins, or thieves. Through a miracle of grace, the good news of Jesus Christ has transformed their lives, their families and the whole community. Our students led a worship service for almost 200 small children that attend classes at the church during the week. Later, we all helped to serve meals at their restaurante popular (the people’s restaurant) that offers a balanced meal for R$1.00 (about 60¢).
Our students were deeply moved by their experience at this dynamic church doing life-changing ministry in the midst of the city. Listen to some of their reflections about the mission of the church.
It is not enough to announce that God is good and that Jesus saves people…What people want to see is the manifestation of the kingdom of God that meets their needs as a whole person. The good news of Jesus should change the complete person and this is what I hope to do as well.
I learned that the church to be successful in her mission must preach the good news but must also work to improve the quality of life of the people, following the example of Jesus who preached, cured, and fed people. He ministered to the whole person. I plan to work to directly respond to the needs of the people wherever God places me.
Our students will soon be serving in Senegal, Morocco, Peru, England, Uruguay, and East Timor. We want them to look at people differently. We pray that they will see and minister to everyone in the community – including the invisible people. How about you? Who are the invisible people in your community? May you look at them today with both your eyes and your heart.
Please praise God with us for:
*The growth of our students during this training program.
*God’s faithfulness in sustaining us through sickness (dengue fever and a broken foot), and the challenges of community living.
Please lay these requests in the Lord’s hands:
*Ask the Lord to guide our students as they seek wisdom regarding where and when to serve.
*Pray that the Holy Spirit would direct our decisions as we lead the young adult group and a new “mission mobilization team” at our local church. We are seeking ways to reach out to the community and are beginning to plan a short term mission outreach to a very poor rural community several hours to the north of Belo.
Thank you for being a part of our team!
Pela graça do Senhor (by the Lord’s grace),
Ann, Bruce, and Asa
Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil