Long term compassion ministry can suck…. (the courage/hope/faith/love out of us) 6

cropped-colombian-girl-header.pngDon’t misunderstand, I love being part of Christmas in July, or shoe box distribution parties (Go Samaritans purse)!  Unfortunately, our job at Inca Link doesn’t stop there.  The organizations and groups that do the above events expect us to follow up!  We all know that needs go deeper than food and clothing.  We also want to help with socialization, education, medical needs and spiritual needs. We’ve read When Helping Hurts, and we are committed!

When we first started long term compassion care, we were innocent, enthusiastic, and excited about making a difference.  I happened to be reading Les Misérables, and I was so touched with the priest who pardoned Jean Val Jean completely, who loved this rejected man with no concern for his own welfare.  I wanted us to be like that priest.  We were going to love, rescue and redeem the poor, the downtrodden, the forgotten!  We were not going to judge them by their past, we were going to see them with eyes only on their potential.   I can hear the music swell right now, the violins, “to love another person is to see the face of God!”  It was all so romantic.  Well, we got to work and the music stopped.

I can still hear the screams of the little orphan girl calling me mean for refusing to let her play until she apologized. I can still feel the hands of the abused teen who pushed me away when I tried to hug her.  I can still feel the sting of being robbed by one we gave all we could to, the roll of the eyes of the child that is was asked to do their chores.

We try to focus on the fact that we are working with very wounded people who don’t know or dare to love, but sometimes..sometimes..we get the love sucked right out of us.  We get tired.  I’ve had many workers come to me and say “I can’t do this anymore!”  Love is beautiful and powerful, but it makes you vulnerable.  You open yourself up to kids/teens/adults who have only been cursed, abused, rejected.  Why should they trust us?  And so we in turn receive rejection, abuse, curses and because we love it hurts that much more.

Just a few days ago, a co-worker got robbed at one of our project sites.  It was a scary experience, and she lost some things that she really needs, but more than that it hurt her very soul that she is out where no one dares to go, day after day after day, and she is abused in this way, by the very people she is showing love to!   I wish these stories were the exception, but in long term compassion…I hate to say it…but it seems to be the rule.  I can’t think of ANY of our workers that hasn’t been robbed or yelled at, or hurt.  Even in Les Misérables Jean Val Jean hits the priest and steals from him before he is completely changed.  Unfortunately, we don´t often get to see the end of the story.

And that is why I’m writing this blog.  I need you guys to know that everyday at least one of us is on the edge of getting these four things sucked out of us:

1.  Our Courage: it is scary to be robbed.  It is hard to go back to a place you have been attacked. It is also scary to be yelled at, sworn at, threatened, hit!  I don’t even like it when I’m driving and I get honked at! 🙂

2.  Our Hope.  I don’t know what the real statistics are, but if I write a bunch of numbers, it is statistically proven you guys won’t read this blog…:)    So, just know that we rarely get to see the fruits of our labor and that just makes us wonder:  Is this worth it?  We love a pregnant teen for months, love on her baby too and then child services makes their ruling and they are out of our lives.  Are they okay?  Will they remember all we taught them?  Will they cry for us in the night?  Going to school is exciting at first, but then the kids are told what to do and suddenly, not so fun.  The pouting begins.  Will they ever realize how important education is?  Will they quit school before they do?

3.  Our Faith.  Okay, I said it out loud.  I’m sure this now makes me the worst missionary ever, but I’m going to tell you the truth.  Sometimes we lose our very faith in God.  Can he really transform THIS kid?   Does He really care?   Being involved in compassion means being exposed to the darkest underbelly of our world. I lost my faith in humanity a long time ago (Total depravity is real), in government, programs, religion too… but sometimes it even creeps into my faith in God.

4.  Our Love.  Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails.  WHEW!  All of this is hard enough when the person loves you back, but when they don’t …its soooo hard.

In light of these 4 dangers in our lives, we want to ask you to help us.  Here are 4 ways:

1.  Encourage us!  Write a comment on our blogs, send us a quick note, tell us your testimony, remind us of God’s greatness and His faithfulness,  Send us jokes to make us laugh!  1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

2.  Pray for us!  I’m representing all of us as a team here, and you can bet I am the weakest link, but we ALL need you to be our warriors against discouragement, depression, hopelessness, and on and on the list goes.  We believe in prayer and we depend on it.  We depend on YOU.  You are part of this team! James 5:16 ” The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

3.  Visit us!  Acts 2:46  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”   So, everyday might be a stretch, but sometimes just seeing your faith, or your enthusiasm, or the projects we have through your eyes helps us get perspective.  Come over and let’s break bread (or ceviche, or taco soup?) together!

4.  Give!  Even though I hate to add it to the list (it’s so cliche), I have to!  Rest is essential to fighting off discouragement and getting sucked dry, but we can barely pay our incredible workers enough to care for their basic needs, let alone help them to get away and rest.  We want to though!  Retreats, training programs, a day by the pool…all these things that the Alliance has offered us we wish we could offer our Inca Link team, and very rarely we have,  but we don’t want to take any money away from the projects (and the truth is our workers don’t want that either!) sooo….a little money towards “member care” would go a long way!   Let’s start a member care fund!  Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I know many of you who read this have experienced, and are experiencing what I’ve outlined.  You guys give us courage, hope, faith and love!  Thanks!

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6 thoughts on “Long term compassion ministry can suck…. (the courage/hope/faith/love out of us)

  • Reply
    Derek Sutton

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings through this blog. It spoke to my heart as I read it while preparing to speak to some college students at a retreat this weekend on the cost of following Jesus. You and your entire ministry team are terrific examples of those willing to pay the cost in order that God may be glorified. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply

    You’re so right, Lis….it SUCKS (the life out of us) sometimes, but it’s all worth it! It’s so cool to see when we have given all we possibly can give, and God revives our hearts and fills it back up with love, faith, courage, and hope!! Thanks for sharing! Love you!

    (PS…sorry I just stopped chatting with you, my phone internet cut off…weird)

    • Reply
      Rich and Elisa Brown Post author

      I´m so glad God is faithful in that way! I can´t imagine sticking with it otherwise. Your pictures of your trip are so great! Thanks for all you guys did!
      Love you too!

  • Reply

    You touch on the very heart of Christian ministry – at least one aspect of it! I think everyone involved in Christian ministry feels something of what you feel. Pastors, who having given hours to counselling someone, then discover they have left the church, to go to another church, and go with a critical spirit. Or teachers at the seminary, who having given hours and hours to preparation and teaching, then find the students fail the exam, indicating they have not learnt anything, and then say the class was so booooring! Or evangelists who preach their hearts out, having travelled miles to go somewhere, and later find that all the so called ‘decisions’ meant nothing! What is the answer? Fix our eyes on Jesus! He faced exactly the same, during His ministry on earth. What kept Him going? It sounds trite, I know, but just fellowship with His Father, and the fulness of the Spirit. As He gave out, God put back into Him, and so He could keep going. It´s just that process – everything sucked out of us, and then everythig blown in again, by the Spirit. But we do need to keep close to God, and have our minds constantly turned to Him. That will save us from ‘burnout’, and keep us going to the end. So keep going, Elisa (and the team). Our prayers are with you, and we are running the same race (albeit on a parallel track!).

    • Reply
      Rich and Elisa Brown Post author

      You are so right Alex! How many youth have we cried over? How many seminary students? It is a struggle to keep looking at situations with eternal eyes. Running this marathon with my eyes fixed on Jesus is a challenge, but I´m glad I have good friends like you and Giovanna to inspire me 🙂 Rich and I pray for you guys and your ministry too! Now, when can we ever get our families together?? That would be encouraging!!