Over the Christmas break, my husband and I went to Asia to spend time with family members, who are serving as part of an Interserve team there. My lasting impressions on my journey home, as I reflected on the amazing band of people that is being forged as a spiritual community, are of cost and honour.
It has cost many of the families much to live in that city. For some families the cost is being far from home and family during a pregnancy, for some the stress of acculturation, and the unrelenting heat. For others the cost is of being shunned by their neighbourhood for being foreigners, or the struggle with language study. Other families bear the cost of watching their children suffer allergic reactions to the environment, or seeing their children unable to express their grief during the adjustment period, or struggle at school. I hasten to add that I did not hear one complaint about the cost. Rather, I heard stories of endurance, determination, passion, prayer, excitement, courage, encouragement and hope.
So I asked myself – why do these people bear the cost, and lay their lives on the line? Not for adventure. Not for excitement. Certainly not for fame and fortune. They do it because each one of them is compelled by the love of Christ to love their neighbours, the shopkeepers and the people they meet and befriend. They do it because God has called them to be in that city, and to put their love and faith in a faithful God into action.
The other overwhelming sense I had was one of honour. It is a great honour for me to do anything I can in the year ahead, as part of the Interserve Australia community, in the service of such people, to pray for them, to give, to encourage those in Australia who support these people, and to find others to support, and perhaps find people to join this particular spiritual community, and many others like it around the globe under the banner of Interserve.
Interserve Partners need not be unusual in the sacrificial way they are putting their faith into action. Together, let’s renew our passion to share the love of God with our neighbours and friends, and support those who have been called to serve in less than comfortable environments.
Dr Ruth Thorne is the Board Chair of Interserve Australia.