Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | July 9, 2010

Embrace the Privilege

Kolkata, India

One thing that I admire most about the Missionaries of Charity is their devotion to prayer. Mother Teresa continually stressed the importance of prayer. “My secret is a simple one,” she said. “I pray. To pray to Christ is to love Him.” This morning we joined the nuns who live at Mother House, the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, for their prayer and worship time at 6:00 AM. Their beautiful symphony of prayer filled the room and spilled out through the windows onto the streets where it mixed with the cacophony of Kolkata’s early morning traffic. The Missionaries of Charity nuns understand that they are helpless to do anything apart from prayer and dependence on Christ. Unlike volunteers who come and go, these nuns face the overwhelming and never-ending needs of the poor day after day. They understand that divine work can only be accomplished in dependence upon divine strength.

Volunteers are also encouraged to start the day with prayer. Every morning volunteers meet for a simple breakfast of bread, bananas, and chai tea. And then, before leaving Mother House for their respective assignments, volunteers recite the following prayer together:

 Dear Lord, the great healer, I kneel before you, since every good and perfect gift must come from you. I pray, give skill to my hands, clear vision to my mind, kindness and meekness to my heart. Give me singleness of purpose, strength to lift up a part of the burden of my suffering fellow men and a true realization of the privilege that is mine. Take from my heart all guile and worldliness, that with the simple faith of a child I may rely on you. Amen.

My favorite part of this prayer is the request that God give me “a true realization of the privilege that is mine.” This month I am observing thirty-two years in full-time ministry. I can say without hesitation that the greatest disappointment over those years is the number of times I met people who refused to serve God. They looked at service as an inconvenience rather than a privilege. Can there be any greater arrogance than to say no to opportunities to serve God and to advance His purposes in the world? One antidote to that kind of arrogance is to remember that God uses us because He is good, not because we are good. What an amazing privilege it is to have the King of the universe entrust us with any opportunity to serve Him.

Today our students served at five of Mother Teresa’s homes. My group of guys served at Kalighat, a hospice-type home for the dying. These boys washed urine soaked clothing, dispensed meds, helped feed the bed-ridden residents, and then washed dishes. I was especially moved when every one of the boys embraced the privilege of rubbing lotion on the feet of men who have never owned shoes. Not a single one of our boys winced or turned away. Instead, they tenderly massaged the gnarled and tired feet of men from the lowest strata of India’s caste system — a system that believes people are not created equal. All of our students engaged in similar types of service in the homes where they served. Each of our adult sponsors reported that all of our students embraced the privilege of serving the poor.

This afternoon, our girls served at the aftercare home we support in West Bengal. They came face-to-face with young girls whose innocence was stolen from them by evil oppressors. But today, God used our girls to love and to bring smiles to the faces of young girls who have little reason to smile. Amy, my assistant, met some of the girls at the aftercare home when she was here with our team in January. When Amy returned to the aftercare home this afternoon, one of the girls recognized her, ran and embraced her, and wept with joy. That’s a beautiful thing and speaks to the importance of loving people without condition. The young lady remembered and embraced Amy because Amy had embraced the privilege of loving her earlier this year. When I met with our students for our evening debriefing and worship time, our girls were beaming with excitement about their experiences at the aftercare home. They can hardly wait to return to the home tomorrow.

So, today was another good day. All of our students embraced the privilege of serving the least of these at Mother Teresa’s homes and all that doing so entails. Our boys worked with children in one of Kolkata’s poorest areas. Our girls started to build friendships with young victims of sex trafficking. And, all the while, God was at work — quietly teaching our students to embrace the privilege of serving Him.


Responses

  1. Hi We are glad that in the rushing around prayer remains so important. What you share is most profound.
    We praise the Lord for what he is showing you and the team.
    May the Lord bless you and the team as you serve him among the poor.

    What you share is a reminder to us in not grumbling when chances come to serve but rather embrace the great opportunity.

    We pray the Lord protection for you and the team

    Paul & Sarah Beniston in UK

  2. How wonderful that these kids are learning this lesson now….before they head out on their own. And they learn not only the lesson of the privilege of serving, but also of how to serve without “guile and worldliness.” I imagine they will come home with new eyes and a transformed heart.

    Praying for you and all the rest of the Kingsland students spread around the globe this week. May the Lord God be glorified in all you do. To Him be the Glory!

    LC

  3. Wonderful, awesome service, for the people! Thanks a lot, people of ‘Kingsland’
    Have a great next days. You are blessed people for the Kolkata!

  4. Words can’t express what I am feeling right now, but my tears speak volumes! Pastor Omar, adult leaders, and students we are praying for you and the blessings that you share to all those in India. Your warm smiles, your gentle touch, your embracing eyes, and your loving Christ-like actions will fill those you meet and love. What a priviledge and an honor you have in serving our mighty God. We love you Kirsten.

  5. That prayer really spoke to me!! Thank you Omar for leading such an important trip in the lives of these kids.

    Much love,
    Kim (Brett’s oldest sister)

  6. The fact that our kids are getting the privilege of serving all over the world blows my mind! What is even more mind-blowing is that God honors us with the privilege of serving him and then rewards us eternally!!! We are pleasing Him, becoming more like Him and affecting our eternity all in one act of sacrificial love. Omar, thanks for giving our kids the chance to serve the poorest of the poor. You are helping them to lay up treasures in heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”– Jesus

  7. What a testimony to love that our kids are witnesses and God reveals his ever mighty Love and Devotion. This opportunity for service is a true gift that the team has embraced.

    We love and pray for you continually and for all the teams around the globe.

  8. Loving people without condition? What a wonderful way to live, Omar.

    I am interested in knowing the age of the youngest girl rescued from human trafficking. If you care to merely call me on your return that is acceptable. Or if you have the time, an email would be nice.

    I am immensely proud of the life lessons the young adults are being taught as they engage justice and compassion initiatives.

    Congratulations on a life well-lived. Treasures in earthen vessels? I believe it applies to your life.

    Smiling,
    Tammy Swofford

  9. I keep coming back to these pages, and reading these beautiful words. I love your passage “All of our students embraced the privilege of serving” What a beautiful picture of God’s Grace and mercy. it is indeed a privilege to serve. I am so moved by the spirit that has wrapped your entire group. I continue to pray for your safety, and that God would place the people in your path -that need to see Jesus.
    God bless you all.
    Omar – you are my hero!


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