People come first

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I am reminded to put aside my lists and simply love.

By Jolene Hodder, Commissioner – 

“Thanks to our social services secretary and a generous donor, our street boys — “Martha’s Boys” — will look smart in their new uniforms when they sit for their national exams,” said Commissioner Jolene Hodder.

I make lists. I can’t help it. Lists are my attempt to control the chaos around me, to make sure that I’m covering all of my responsibilities, and to achieve some sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

And there has been plenty of chaos in my life recently. For one thing, the government is widening the main road through Kakamega, a process which destroys literally everything in its path. The gracious old trees that used to line the road through town are now just firewood. More importantly, the construction has leveled some of the small businesses established by the women we’re trying to bring out of prostitution. It’s even brought down the walls of the local prison. Oddly enough, though, there have been no escapes.

As part of the municipal makeover, The Salvation Army was asked two weeks ago to round up the street boys with whom we work and deliver them to the local juvenile detention facility. One official said, “If you feed one mouse, more will come.” We refused.

At the same time, all the work needed to put on a fundraiser for the chapel at our new Officer’s Training College has kept us busy. I was glad, of course, to see that the whole community, including a number of official dignitaries, gave active support to the event. One of the politicians even arrived at the event by helicopter. As usual, though, a number of the checks were postdated. It’s at moments like that when I feel as if all my work is for nothing, and I come to the depressing realization that no list will ever be able to fix it all.

But as I lay in bed the other night, wallowing in self-pity, the Lord reminded me of a quote from Ken Blanchard: “Jesus came to Earth not to build a religion, but to create relationships.”

So often we focus on organizational problems—the buildings, the finances, the systems, the results. That’s not right. We shouldn’t put the programs before the people. If anything, Christianity is about putting aside the lists, the ledgers, and the plans, and simply loving others through the chaos of life.

“Teacher,” he asked, “which is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Love him with all your mind.” This is the first and most important commandment. And the second is like it. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Everything that is written in the Law and the Prophets is based on these two commandments” (Matt. 22:36-40).

You know, I think I’ll put down my day planner now. Let’s see who wants tea.

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