There I was standing on a stranger’s driveway, hearing a young woman disclosing her story of grief, pain, neglect and abuse. She’s homeless. A solo mother of 2 little ones. She’s unemployed, has no car and no qualifications. Her only stable support was her late father who passed away last year and ever since his death she has been self-medicating to soothe her sorrow. We don’t know each other, but she knows I come from a place that can help her and she is ready for a change.
My role that day was to provide a safe space for her to talk about whatever she wanted to. Mine was to listen, demonstrate that I cared, ensure her safety and connect her to the support she needed.
Driving back to the office my supervisor asked if I was ok. I nodded yes. He reminded me not to take on other peoples issues. Their stuff is their stuff. I nodded yes.
I was there in a professional capacity not as a Christian minister. She wasn’t even our client. She saw us approaching her friend's place and came over and asked if we could help her.
There are people in pain all around us. On our doorstep. In our back yard. On our bus. At our work. In our school and even in our homes. In light of the recent Christchurch shootings, we are now, as a nation, very aware of, the pain, grief and trauma experienced by our Muslim community.
Here are a few learning points from my experience above that I would like to share with you, especially my Christian brothers and sisters:
1. Those in pain may never come to church or a conference so take yourself to where healing, restoration and hope is needed. Go to the dark places, learn to sit in it then turn on the light of Christ in you. Even if that light looks professional.
1Peter 3:15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
2. Their stuff is their stuff. Don’t take their stuff on board. That’s what Jesus did on the cross. You’re not the saviour, He is. This is a truth that my wise husband has to remind me of now and then. Connect them to the one who can help them.
Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
3. Jesus knows all about pain. He understands, and He can heal it. Aotearoa needs you to stand healed and take your healing to our nation. You don’t have to go far. Look around you.
John 13:34 A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
God bless you