Sharper focus ‘What would happen?’

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By Linda Manhardt, Major

Each day—between 5:30 and 6 a.m.—at the Training College in the Philippines, the cadets have a time of personal prayer. Monday is my day to be “officer on duty.” This means making sure that the daily schedule is followed, instructors have what they need and the many small details of college life are dealt with.

One Monday morning at 5:30 while making my rounds, I saw the light on in the chapel. Usually the cadets remain in their rooms, and I was ready to admonish whoever was in the chapel for not having their devotions.

What I found was humbling.

Cadet Imie was on her knees before the Lord. In tears, she cried out to God to meet her needs. As I quietly left the chapel, I decided to talk with her later in the day.

I found that Imie had absolutely no resources. She had no money for haircuts, toiletries or any of her needs. Yet in spite of her desperate situation, she was worried about her mother and feeling the responsibility to care for her. She felt the pain of not being able to help.

Until this point, I was not aware of her situation. I gave her 1,000 pesos (about $18), and her tears became tears of joy. She kept half of it for herself and sent half to her mother.

I was struck by Imie’s strong sense of duty to her family. Here she was, with such limited resources for herself, yet her greatest joy was in sharing what she had been given with her family.

Throughout the session, this scenario repeated itself time after time as cadets received and shared with their loved ones.

The Filipino culture is one of a strong sense of responsibility for caring for your family. If one sibling has resources, s/he will pay for the college education of all of his/her siblings. They will go without to make sure that the family is taken care of. It is a wonderful thing to witness—this sense of duty that is lived out on a daily basis. People think of themselves not as individuals necessarily, but as a part of a family unit. So there is no pain in sharing resources. In giving to the family, they are giving to themselves. There is joy in being able to share.

I have so much to learn from this culture—so much to apply to my own way of viewing the world.

What would happen if we began to apply this sense of duty for others to those outside of our immediate family—a neighbor or friend in need or even people we don’t know. Isn’t this how Jesus lived? Isn’t this how he expects us to live—sharing what we have with those who don’t, and actually doing so with joy?

Lord, help us to take more responsibility for those around us, to feel a sense of duty for others, known and unknown.

What would happen if we lived that way?

For one thing, I think God would smile.

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