Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 21, 2013

In The Direction Of

Houston, Texas en route to Amman, Jordan

Even a cursory study of the life of Jesus will reveal that He moved toward people in need. I like the word “toward” because it means “in the direction of.” For example, lepers were perhaps the most feared individuals in Jesus’ day — disfigured outcasts banished to a life of loneliness and desperation. Lepers had to announce their comings and goings in order to warn others to clear the way. In other words, so that others would have plenty of time to “move away from” them.

The presence of a leper always produced more than a little fear and anxiety. Jesus however, was not afraid. He did what others must have considered totally absurd. He moved in the direction of lepers. Mark (1:40-45) records an occasion when Jesus reached out His hand and touched and healed a leper. In his book “Dirty God: Jesus in the Trenches,” author Johnnie Moore points out that touching others is a sign of intimacy. “It is a bridge not just from a hand to a shoulder,” he writes, “but also from a heart to a heart.”

There are many other examples in the Gospels of Jesus moving in the direction of those in need. Whether it was a woman at a well, a despised tax-collector in a tree, an adulteress being dragged through the streets by her accusers, or a widow at the funeral of her only son, Jesus did not shy away from messy or painful situations. Instead, He moved in the direction of people tangled up in webs of sin, imprisoned behind bars of hopelessness, and struggling beneath the weight of heavy burdens. Grace and compassion moved Jesus in their direction.

I have been thinking much about Jesus as my team and I travel to Jordan to walk slowly among Syrian refugees — people who have been forced to flee their native land because of a bloody civil conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives. I first visited with Syrian refugees when I was in Jordan last April. Their stories of suffering the loss of multiple family members at the hands of their own government troubled me and kept me up at night. Since that time, I have longed to return to them — to move in their direction in order to offer practical assistance along with the hope that Jesus still offers to the disenfranchised and the desperate.

If we want to become more like Jesus, then we must learn to consistently move in the direction of those in need. We must close the distance between ourselves and those who, like the lepers of Jesus’ day, are longing for the kind of touch that will build a bridge from heart to heart. Demonstrating grace and kindness is one way to show people in need that God loves them, believes in them, and has not forgotten them. But in order for people in need to experience the benefits of grace we must move in their direction, slow down, look into their eyes, listen to their stories, and do what Jesus would do.

What about you? Wherever you are headed today, ask God to help you to be sensitive to the people He puts in your way. Ask Him to help you to see them clearly and to listen carefully to what they are saying. And if you discover someone in need or who is hurting, then move in their direction and offer them the healing balm of grace in the name of Jesus who was full of grace and truth. I am thankful that Jesus willingly made Himself of no reputation, took the form of a servant, and moved in my direction (Phil. 2:7). For me, it has made all the difference.


  1. What a great message this is Omar. This is such a beautiful way of explaining how we need to be like Jesus!

    Have a safe trip and God Bless You!


    • Thanks, Chad. Greetings from Jordan. Just visited with several Syrian refugees and listened to heartbreaking stories. Thanks for your prayers for these families.

  2. […] In The Direction Of ( […]

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