“By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
As our city began to feel the effects of Hurricane Florence, our church home of Manna Church opened its doors as a shelter for those displaced because of the storm. Donations came in to help with the logistics of sleeping arrangements, food, and water for those who would enter the doors of the church looking for a place of refuge in a very scary storm. None of these items would be as important as the hands and feet who would be needed to make the operation run smoothly. Our church put out a call to anyone willing to volunteer to serve those who came through the doors until they could return home.
Last night I had the privilege to be one of those volunteers. I had no idea what my role would be, but I asked God to help me be His vessel to love well whomever was there. As volunteers, we were given a quick brief on how things were being run and then we were offered options of where to serve and asked to decide by where we felt we could be the most useful. I offered to volunteer in the women’s only shelter room. I was not sure what to expect but I wanted to honor the Lord by loving the ladies well with a compassionate heart toward their situation. As I entered the room I was met by Momma T, as she affectionately is called, and hug not just once but twice by a beautiful older woman full of the love and joy of the Lord. Wait! I was here to help her and in 5 minutes she had blessed me by her loving affection, her bright smile and her concern for how I was doing. She began to tell me her story of being evacuated and how blessed she was to be in our church shelter. She called it a resort, a place of peace and rest. She told me she knew the Lord was doing something special through the love of all the ladies she had gotten to know in the women’s only room. I looked around to see 13 other women encircled about the room, each had their tiny space of comfort, one next to another. I observed conversations, gentle smiles, and care and concern for each other. Here I was to help them and these women were teaching me by their example of what love looks like even when the circumstances are not easy. I began to move about the room, introducing myself to each of the women and hearing their life stories. The first was Miss Katie, a 91 year old beauty, who captured my heart. I just knew she was one of the reasons the Lord brought me to volunteer. I found out she lives less than a mile from our home with no immediate family in town. I told her we were going to adopt her and take care of her as she needed. Others in the room were women who called the Salvation Army home. These women demonstrated such love and care for each other. Even in the days of uncertainty, not knowing if the place they called home was flooded, they were concerned for one another. One of these women would not eat until she was absolutely sure her friend had a plate too. As the night went on I also met amazing people who were volunteering, and they too were an example of love to those around them. I witnessed a young momma that I personally know, sitting on the floor playing games with a group of children, knowing her kiddos were home with their Daddy as she volunteered. What does love look like? It is people, choosing to take care of others without expecting anything in return, serving because of Jesus words spoken of in Matthew 25:40, “Whatever you did for the least of my brethren, you did for Me.”
I left my church last night with a new understanding of what God really meant when He asked us to love one another. I was the one blessed by those I went to serve.
Last night love was demonstrated through acts of kindness and true concern for others needs. May we each open our hearts and love everyone God puts in our path. May we see all people as those He created to be valued and cherished.