Puzzled - that’s the word that best describes the reaction I receive when I tell people how I serve my church and/or what I want to do as a future career. You see, this year I was given the opportunity to lead my church’s college group’s mercy ministry. This is also my third year of college, which means that my status as a student is quickly coming to an end. And while these two areas of my life have been huge blessings for me, there are struggles and challenges that also come with them.
When I was asked to lead Harbor’s college mercy ministry this year, I was humbled and excited to be offered such an amazing opportunity to serve the church. However, as people began to ask me how I would be serving at the beginning of the year, their perplexities as to what I was actually going to do affected my attitude. It seemed that many people did not understand what mercy ministry even was or why there was a need for it, planting anxieties in my own heart. I began to question whether my motives in taking on this act of service at Harbor was for the right reasons - Did I even understand why I wanted to be a part of this ministry? Was I only taking this for the ‘leadership’ title and to further my own glory? Or was it because I really understood that mercy should be shown to others in the way that God showered mercy on us when we were once broken and helpless?
Similarly, when faced with the question of what I want to do with my future, the responses were not always what I expected. There have been times where I was told that I was being naive. There have been times where I received a scoff followed by, “Oh you’re still young, you have time to figure out a real career.” And still, there have been numerous times where I faced a wrinkled nose, furrowed brow, and a look of disdain because working in the non-profit sector for social justice causes is not ‘practical’ financially.
However, despite these challenges between ministry and future career plans, God always redirects my insecurities and affirms that the heart He has shaped and molded inside of me is one of mercy and compassion. But let me back up and give you some context.
In high school, I went through an identity crisis of sorts. As college applications loomed ahead, I started to seriously reflect on what I wanted to do with my life. I was heavily involved in my high school’s business/marketing club, and I thought for the longest time that I would go into the business world, get an MBA, and life would go on. Being in charge of my youth group’s Compassion International sponsored child was what began a change in my heart. After I registered to sponsor a child in a third world country through the non-profit, faith-based organization, I began to receive informational newsletters, videos, and letters in the mail. Of these, I dissected each item thoroughly. For some reason, learning about the poverty that countries across the world face really struck a chord in my heart - a chord so loud that I couldn’t ignore it. After careful thought and consideration, I decided that my passion was not for business as I had thought before, but it was for social justice.
Ever since that fateful moment in high school (okay it wasn’t that magical, but it was pretty life-altering), God has reminded me time and again of my passion for mercy - the lurch of my heart after learning of the brokenness found on the Indian reservations in Arizona, the lump in my throat that I couldn’t swallow when a homeless man cried after we prayed for him and his deceased wife in downtown Oakland, the tears that I couldn’t blink away when I saw a blind man playing his guitar on the streets of Julian - these moments, and many more, have reaffirmed that my heart’s desire is for the lost, broken, and needy.
Therefore, after all of this reflection, I would like to use this blog to record and chronicle the moments in my life where I encounter mercy. Whether directly related to Harbor’s mercy ministry or in accordance with future career goals and opportunities, I want to make this blog an encouragement for myself (and hopefully others!). Having a heart for mercy does not come easily. When I get weighed down in the future, I want a reference point to remind myself of my passion not only for people in need, but my desire to imitate Christ - the ultimate servant and model of love.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it for me.’
Matthew 25: 35-40