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Choose Your People

Posted by on March 21, 2016

Many years ago I was visiting Rome with my husband Alex. One day we were waiting in line to get into the Vatican for the grand tour. The line was pretty long and wrapped around the walls that surrounded the Vatican and we were there for quite some time. At one point we were shuffling along and I noticed a woman crouched on the ground with her hand lifted up begging for money and I kept walking. The truly shameful part of this story is that as I glanced down I noticed a terrible wound on her scalp. Her scalp looked as if someone had grabbed it and torn it away from her skull. Why did I keep walking? Why didn’t I stop? Why did I choose in that moment to pretend she wasn’t there? I think that at some point in our lives we learn to ignore certain people. We learn to turn away. We believe the worst stories that we’ve ever heard about people mutilating themselves so that they can get more money from us. We harden our hearts and we just walk by. Fast forward ten years and here I am living in Mozambique, Africa. I see people in desperate need everywhere I go. What do I do? You see, I made a vow after choosing to ignore that poor woman. I promised myself I would look the needy and the broken and the destitute in the eye. I promised myself to look for the image of God in everyone I encounter whether they are rich or poor, good or bad, whether I agreed with their beliefs or not, no matter their condition … they bear the image of God and I am called to love them. So, how can we live into that? We do our best to love everyone and we choose our people. I cannot help every beggar in the streets of Maputo the need here is so vast. The crippled, blind and wounded are everywhere. But … I can make the difference in the life of a few. So, I choose my people. I choose to make an impact in the lives of a few of the people that I see every day.


Every day on our way to school I see a sweet little boy walking his blind grandfather up and down the street begging for money. They are there all day. This little boy has nothing, his clothes are ragged, torn and dirty. He does not know how to read. I worry about his future. What can it hold? And every day we stop (the whole family including my two little six year old sons), we say hello, we wave and smile, and we give them a little money for the day. We are working at building a relationship with them and we pray for them, because they are our people. We have laid claim to them. We have decided to love them and care for them and worry about them. They are our people. There is another little man we see every day, rain or shine. He is an older man who has probably had a stroke. He is paralyzed on one side. He cannot talk. His hand is shriveled and often there is a stream of drool coming from the side of his mouth. There is no opportunity for him. He will not recover. He cannot find work. He has no family to care for him. So we stop, we care for him, we pray for him, we make sure he has a little money and we worry about whether he is ok. He is one of our people too. It is important to me that I keep this personal. These people are God’s beloved children. They look like Him. So I look them in the eye, I treat them with the dignity they deserve, and I love them.

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