For me living in community, means praying that God will break your heart for what breaks His. It means unconditionally loving the child that called you all kinds of bad names, loving the kid you have to go pick up drunk in the teachers room at a school function, it means forgiving the child that keeps on lying to you over and over and over and over again, it means DOING good and LOVING all people as Jesus did.
I really suck at it, to be honest! People that know me can not believe how mean and angry I sometimes get at these children. I can be such a self centred person! In a year’s time I have cried more than in my lifetime so far. I make mistakes over and over again, but somehow I keep my faith - thank God for grace!
Living with these kids is all about giving your money and time without expecting any in return. It means giving up your mattress to a child that likes yours better. It’s about writing them good luck messages even though they hate you at that time. It’s about making them coffee or driving them somewhere after they have just disappointed you very much or still going to tell them good night and you love them, after they have announced their hatred towards you for making them clean their rooms. It’s about listening to nine different stories even though you know you’d rather be studying. It’s about lending your jersey to someone even if you wanted to wear it that day. It’s about forgiving, believing and trying without ever giving up with every person that comes your way in need. It’s about taking your books with to the hospital to study while waiting in the waiting room at night. It’s about waiting for them to learn to take care of themselves, and to learn that God loves them, no matter what it takes. It’s all about loving and still caring for the girl that lies to you and hates you for finding it out. It’s about loving them with God’s love until they get their dignity back, even if it means a commitment for 10 years! About missing parties because someone needs you, it’s about being yourself and finding joy in Jesus even though what you see and experience everyday is more challenging than anything you’ve done before (and you’ve been around).
Its al about trying to be less and letting God be more.
The problem today is that so many people begin to help, but as soon as they see it’s going to take a little effort, they just stop doing it. Believe me, most of the time you really don’t know what you’re doing or how to do the next thing, but in the end, if you keep doing it for the Kingdom, and really make an effort to keep in a close relationship with Him, to keep listening to Him, it becomes a lifestyle not a job.
It is very important not ever to burn out. You have to push yourself to do more and more but always remember: the best thing you can do for all the people around you, is that it goes well with you emotionally.
This afternoon I was driving with one girl sleeping on the back seat after a long day at school and the other one happily singing along with the music on the radio. I looked up, and through the beautiful roof of green leaves of jacaranda trees, I saw the clear blue sky. Everything felt perfect. Like one of those real Kodak-moments, a safe, happy place. For that moment the two children with me seemed to feel as content as I did. They felt loved, safe, and happy.
Then I thought about the previous night. Coming home into a big fight. Nine girls each coming to tell their side of the story and saying how bad everyone else was. I didn’t really know what to do, so I prayed. Prayed to stay calm and for wise words of some sort (not that I’m usually so clever and stable to pray before I speak, I was just really tired).
Then I thought about how beautiful the trees still look, and it suddenly dawned on me. It was as if the trees were saying: “we are beautiful!” and you recognize that because in your life most of the brokenness has left, the beauty can’t disappear into hurting holes in your heart. And it all started to make sense. We should help those who are broken and sad until they can enjoy the beauty around them too, because when it’s still stormy and dark inside you, the beauty on the outside passes unnoticed.
Intentionally, we must care and love and give and seek God. We know that He will fix whatever we mess up! And it helps us to be aware of the beauty in everything and everyone.
Writing this make me feel a bit vein, I now that I have no real authority to say these things, but what I do know is this: even though me and you might not be these perfectloving Christians, the best we can do is to try to be more like Jesus. The point is actually, no matter what you do for a living, do it for the Glory of God. And what is the most glorious thing for God? When His people love and share! You know, the Jesus-way-thing . . . striving to be like Jesus on earth, to be a lover of all creation white, black, brown, purple . . . everyone!
by Sané Lötter
(A lot of things happened since Sané wrote this. She finished her studies and is currently working as a social-worker at Echo, managing our after-school houses. She still lives in one of the Echo Houses in Pretoria.)