I’ve always been the kind of person who steps out. As a little kid, I had no problem going up to the counter at a fast-food restaurant and asking for ketchup or saying hi to a stranger. I thought this would translate into missions with no problem but I remember my first time in a third-world country when God told me to step out and I stayed put. It was a defining moment. From then on, I told myself I will always step in to what God is calling me to.
It was my first time out of the country and in a third world country. We would go to a university to do ministry, talking, and getting to know the people there. Because it was such an impoverished country, everywhere you went there were beggars. Most of the beggars at this university were children or elderly. It was our first time visiting this university. Because we are obviously from America people started to crowd around pretty quickly.
As I was talking to some people who were students there two beggars that came up to me. One was an elderly woman, she was hunched over with hardly any teeth. She came and put her hand on mine and began to talk to me in a language I did not understand. The man I was talking to at the time looked at her and said go away. I was in shock. How could he say that to her? I realized then that they had absolutely no value for her. That she was always cast off. I looked into her eyes. I wanted her to feel seen by me even though I had nothing to give her at that time. I wanted her to stay. The other beggar who approached me was a little boy. He asked for money in English holding out his hand. Money was probably the only word in English he knew. I apologized in the broken words of his language that I knew. Again the students surrounding me told him to go away. This time I was mad. I turned to them and demanded that he stay. I asked him as many questions as I could in his language which was about three. So our conversation was short but I so wanted him to feel seen. He left and my day continued.
Later, our team was about to leave the university. We were gathering everyone up. As I walked with a group of a few of my team members. I turned. The little beggar boy was on the ground holding his head in his hands and crying. My spirit immediately lept. That still small voice said to me “Go, put your arms around him”. But my feet stayed walking the course. I stared as we walked by. The Holy Spirit again told me again to step out and yet I stayed walking the way I was going. My heart broke. I felt sick to my stomach. How could these people cast off these other people? How could this little boy feel so alone? How could all these people walk by and shrug this off? I didn’t know why he was crying, was he hurt? I still do not know. But here is what I do know. God told me to step out. God told me to take step towards the boy not towards the exit. I like everyone else walked right on by.
On our way home from the university on the bus, I sat with my headphones in. I was still in culture shock. We had only been there for a few days. I felt so confused, angry, and sick to my stomach still. Why hadn’t I stepped out? I was raised to stand up when no one else is. I was raised to be a person with extreme courage. I was so disappointed in myself. At that moment, I vowed to myself that I never wanted to not obey the Holy Spirit again. From that moment on I was going to step out.
This day taught me a lot. It will forever be burned in my heart. I learned that Jesus always saw and stopped for the people who society called the lowest of the low. We are called to be Jesus with skin on us. I want people around me to always feel seen. So often we let the fear of man become more than our fear of the Lord. I want to be a person of extreme courage, focused only on God and the person he has in front of me. Not the opinions of those around me.
Jesus is calling you into a purpose. He is calling you to step out. Often the most impactful things in our lives take courage. But He gives it freely. The still small voice is calling. Let’s listen better and step out more.