A good friend of mine is doing great work to a very harassed people group who have been oppressed in their mother country and now face oppression in foreign countries. He works with refugees in central Europe, and yet he admitted in a recent prayer letter that he finds himself wondering “What difference are we really making?” I’ll admit it, I wake up on a day like today and find it easy to wonder if this day, and the work that I do in it, will really matter in the end when you truly consider all the needs in this world. But my friend shared this beautiful insight from the ever thoughtful Henri Nouwen which provides some helpful insight into the question “will today matter?” Allow me to share it with you today.
“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems.
My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress.
But I wonder more and more if the first thing should be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”