Monday, March 2, 2015
“If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.” — Marc Anthony
Almost everyone who works in the service of others can quickly recognize among their brethren those who do the work out of love and those who do it as a vocational choice or for the pay or some other reason. Not all who serve others as a vocation do it out of love for others, but those who do can see their same passion in those who are doing the same work. There is a kind of “love at first sight” among those who serve a higher calling and see the same in others. It is not the romantic love of which I speak, but "philios" which comes from the Greek “Philia” (φιλία philía) which means "affectionate regard, friendship," usually "between equals." The term “brothers in arms” comes to mind but this goes beyond gender, although there is almost always an element of combat involved—not a combat of arms, but a combat of the system, of others who work for greed, of those who would try to prevent good from coming to those believed to be undeserving. It is certainly true of missionaries. Not everyone should be a missionary, and, in many, the love of others and the imitation of Christ are sadly lacking. However, among those who are called and whose passion fuels their efforts, we recognize each other quickly, as do those we are serving. We have often heard from the Tanzanians we serve that we are not like other missionaries because we truly care about the people to whom we bring a little light into the darkness of their world. I say this because we instantly saw the light and love of others in the hearts and eyes of the missionaries from Ireland who were our guests last week. It was a kind of “philios” at first sight in that we knew we were among our own kind and felt warm, safe, and comfortable in that knowledge. Every teacher, police officer, fireman, social worker, pastor, and nurse (to name just a few) feel that same kind of kinship with others with whom they share a vocation. My wife always knew who really loved teaching and the children and those who were just working for a paycheck. Paul Singleton, his wife, Alice, and their friend, Claire were such--three souls with a shared passion that was impossible to hide. We hope we get to see much more of them and to get to work with them on biosand filter projects and other mission areas. It was also nice to meet them because of my background in British literature, history, and art, as well as Karen, John, and my love of BBC tv series like “Morse,” “The Vicar of Dibley,” “The IT Crowd,” and many others. They were surprised to find we had the entire eight year series of “Ballykissangel” about a church in Ireland and the people of the village it serves. Our new three friends are much younger than we are, even younger than John by a decade or two, but we saw in each other shared love for children and concern for the problems that plague the people here in this poor country. They didn’t know it, but they gave us a real lift. It is always nice to know that there are others who feel the way you do and are fighting the same fight. We are praying for their ministry and are asking for your prayers for them as well. “The harvest is plentiful and the laborers [who really care] are few.” Keep us and all those who labor in distant vineyards in your thoughts and prayers. We couldn’t do this without you.