YWAM outreaches are often centred on serving the community we find ourselves in. Paying thousands of dollars to travel thousands of kilometres to spend several weeks devoting your time to a particular group of people seems like the ultimate act of service. However, what I have learnt on my current outreach has very much changed my views about what Christian service is all about.
The team and I were in Southeast Asia devoting a little over two weeks to partner with a local church. Ask any member on our team and they will tell you that one of the highlights was visiting the prayer cell groups that run on weeknights. We would all pile into an auto-rickshaw, usually in groups of threes or fours, to be dropped off at various homes throughout the city.
After a couple of nights of this we noticed a theme.
It wasn’t their eagerness to hear our testimonies and sermons, or to receive healing that stood out to us, it was the ridiculous generosity of the families displayed in the hospitality we received. In Australia we might offer biscuits and a cuppa to show some decent hospitality, not exactly a full meal with drinks and often desert as these families would each night.
The moment that really stood out to me was when three of us found ourselves being special guests at a prayer cell/20th wedding anniversary celebration. Having received no warning until we were in the car on the way to the house, we rocked up in dirty clothes having just played with orphans, and were armed only with our Bibles and stories. We were seated on a beautiful white couch and proceeded with the usual routine of testimony, sermon, and prayer. That all went pretty well and then the dinner came out – and it was a fair-dinkum beaut! Having quickly polished off my plate I received the usual offer of ‘more’. No sooner had I nodded in acceptance they lifted their plate to push food from theirs on to mine.
I had no idea what to do.
I felt awful for accepting, but I didn’t want to be rude and push it away either. This is just one example of many in which people went out of the way to serve us. Whether it was insisting on paying for things for us, offering to help at a moment’s notice or how often we heard they were praying for us, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the way so many people with far less than us went right out of their way to serve us, the people who came to serve them. Whenever I’d say “thank you” in these situations I was met with the usual response of “praise God”. If a Westerner were to be thanked in this way their response would usually involve a long explanation of how God has blessed them so they must bless others in return. Through their response, they showed true humility.
If I was to sum up what I learnt from these people it was that serving others isn’t a solitary action coming from a place of abundance. It comes from a humble attitude where our eyes are completely off ourselves enabling us to help with whatever God has blessed us with. Not in a cliché kind of way, but because service is more of a lifestyle and an attitude that isn’t about pleasing people. Service leads you to more than just a single action or mission trip, it leads you to an attitude of humility and a genuine acceptance of Jesus’ two greatest commandments: love God and love people.
by Jarryd Dalton