Growing up from a very humble Christian home, with contented down-to-earth parents who did not have everything yet ensured we had everything we NEEDED, I understood the word LOVE differently. It meant making sure theres always enough drinking water to serve every passerby that requests for, because our house, which is close to the street has a beautiful umbrella tree that people always found shelter to rest whenever they got tired. They were welcomed to sit, drink some water and sometimes eat what was available. Sometimes I got tired of going out to answer a the door just to provide drinking water, but I did it. This little act translated into so many lessons in my life. It meant there were no strangers in our home, as they come today to sit to rest, they left as family members and should they return another day, introductions were needless. I grew to admire the commendations people give of my parents, and their love has continually opened many doors for me. ” Ah! you father did this for me.. “, ..do you mean the lecturer? oh he’s a very kind man”, “you don’t have an idea how your mum blessed me..”….
I grew up with an open heart, open mind and an eye for detail which helps me see the needs of others and fathom how to assist. All these I consider gifts from God. He blessed me with a wonderful father whose heart is totally out for humanity. A giver, a problem solver and a humble man with a very supportive and equally caring wife. Yet, I have not learnt all there is to know about loving humanity as it should be.
Love is a ministry and the world needs Love. At every stage in life, I have learnt the world does not always understand love from my perspective. From high school through the university up to work environment, cross-culturally and internationally, love means different things to different people. Love is suspicious. Love is strange. Love is an opportunity to be taken advantage of. Love bears many negative qualities NOT because people don’t know how to love, but because most people have not experienced it the same way as we do. Our perspectives are different, therefore good intentions are misinterpreted. You see someone falling and you try to lift them but the think you’re the reason they are falling. The church I attend here in the UK tried to pay for peoples’ groceries as an Easter gift but many shied away because to them, it was a very strange act. They may have never freely been given without a price to pay.
Some people are always violent, not because they love to be, but in their whole lives they have never experienced nor received love. Some have been victims of sexual abuse, bully, broken homes and these happened from their young age and they grew knowing the world from the dark side. And some have never even received a compliment for their efforts, or appearance.
The question is, do we blame people for repaying love with unkindness and hate? Do we stop loving because people do not understand or appreciate? I will say NO, we must keep loving. Love is a ministry, it is a gift that should be used for the purpose it is given for. We are called to love. 1 Cor 13:4-7 describes love as being patient, kind, persevering and so on. Love is a barrier breaker and must always win over very drop of hatred.
Recently I had a conversation with my father and he said to me “my daughter if you see a generous and caring human being in life who has changed and become unkind, you don’t necessarily have to judge them, they may have been hurt out of that act of generosity and love”. While this is deep and true, I will urge that we never give up on humanity. The love I speak of today, is love for the human race and quitting on doing good deeds to others means quitting on humanity.
When we open our arms and hearts to receive and love people without judging them, we are able to build a community like the one in my neighbourhood, which stands up for each other. Love is a ministry and when we know how to love and yet deliberately fail to love, we are failing not only man, but God who has called us into that ministry. Let us give people an opportunity to see some positive the brighter side of life that they may also learn and together, we can light the world.