Sermonette: The Purpose of Others

Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC) is the organization that provides a comfortable place for me to eat, sleep, and access the internet. Aside from taking care of me, CCC has a much more challenging and important task of providing for female street children and orphans. Recently, I stopped past CCC’s newly constructed center to say hello to the girls and see the center’s progress. When I walked into the center, the girls saw me, yelled “uncle”, and greeted me with a plethora of hugs. I must say the girls truly know how to make a person feel received.

I talked with them, and they showed me some of the projects they worked on that day. Each one showed me the miniature tukuls (traditional huts made with mud walls and straw roofs. I have a picture of one of the homepage of this blog) they constructed alongside miniature fences and storage huts to keep grain. Then they played together. I observed them smile and laugh as each one responded to the personalities of the other. As I watched them, I remembered how good it is to spend time with peers for no other reason than to enjoy their company.

Life in South Sudan is in many ways similar to life as I remember it in DC. Networking is a constant necessity, and I’m here to accomplish a specific task. In such an environment it becomes easy to view people as a means to an end. People become those who help us achieve goals – land the next job, achieve the next promotion, complete our projects, or become acquainted with a higher social echelon. Similarly, as a minister, it becomes easy to view people primarily as those we serve.

Spending time with the girls reminded me that all the aforementioned views are problematic. When God created, the only thing wrong with creation was that the first person was alone. God said it was “not good”. If we move past all the obvious necessities of romance and procreation, it can be understood that “aloneness” was problematic because there no one with whom to share life experiences. The first person didn’t need another person because of a lack of food or housing, or even to help him till the ground. God had already created plants and animals and gave the first human a brain and to take care of those needs. After all the necessities for physical life were given, another person was added simply to share in the journey.

My church choir used to sing a song with the lyrics, “I need you, you need me, we’re all apart of God’s body”. I would resist singing along with the choir as they sang this song because I adored another song with the lyrics, “As long as I’ve got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else”. I couldn’t balance the lyrics of these two songs, so I loved the later and disregarded the former. I remember talking to my mother about it, and she replied, “That’s because you haven’t lost someone close to you.”

In hindsight, I suppose both songs have their place. When Christ calls we follow the call to the extent of hating mother and father, brother and sister, wife or husband. Thus, we find ourselves alone. But God’s call to Christianity isn’t a call away from genuine human interaction; in fact it’s quite the opposite. God always provides people to be with us for no other reason than to travel the journey alongside us. Christ called 70 disciples away from their homes and families, but gave each one a companion, sending them out, two-by-two.

The girls at the center have left their families. Many of the habits and viewpoints carried by their families are prohibited at the center. Still, God has provided them with others, not to help them eat, sleep, or accomplish goals but, to share in their journeys. Of course, through the sharing of journeys, burdens are lightened and goals are accomplished, but it is a by-product of relationships and not the purpose. I fear that many, including myself, haven’t fully grasped the understanding that people are primarily those with whom we share our lives and not those whom we serve or have serve us.

When God came into the world as Christ, God came not so that we could accomplish goals, become political leaders (as many expected), or even to institute a new plan to serve people. These may be by-products, but the purpose of God’s coming was to enable us to have a deep and lasting relationship with God, so that we could share in God’s journey and have God share in ours. Christ taught his disciples that it was by the measure of their sharing – otherwise stated, the measure of their love – that people would recognize them as his disciples (John 13:35). I recognized Christ in the interactions of the girls from CCC, and through the sharing of their lives with me, they taught me something about my Savior.

Praise God for them!

CCC girls singing at a school event

CCC Children performing at a school event

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7 Responses to Sermonette: The Purpose of Others

  1. Crystal Harris says:

    I believe that the song writer wrote, “As long as I’ve got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else,” as a way of saying that God will supply all his/her needs. There is no need to seek anything else except God. We know that God supplies all our needs and one of our needs is companionship. God knows we need people. There was a point in Elijah’s life, when he was lonely, that he was so distraught. God told him he would send him a helper. God knew that Elijah needed a friend. We all do.

  2. Teresa says:

    One of my fav bible verses is ‘….God is Love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him’ 1 John 4:16. This verse has helped me deal with so many relationships in my life. In any relationship I try to make sure I am approaching our interaction with love first without expectations or goals…just love. With that I know that God is in the relationship and the relationship will be the best it can be (even if it is someone u don’t want a relationship with). I resonated with ur situation because as a therapist I deal with the same thing with my patients. We have much better success and outcomes in therapy when I don’t approach the treatment as a ‘service’ but as an exchange of ‘ love’ in whatever capacity. Makes the job a lot more rewarding 🙂 u should advertise this blog to family…I’m just finding out about it!

    • Teresa,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree with you. Relationship (love exchange) in lieu of service is the best approach. I sent this blog out to the family after my first entry. Maybe I’ll try again, but you definitely should have heard about this a long time ago. Perhaps you’ll help me pass the word 🙂

  3. Patrice R. Harris says:

    Darriel,

    I remember telling you that years ago. This is a reminder that what one says can have a profound impact on another person’s life years after it has been said. It makes me humble and at the same time reminds me to try to always make sure that what I say is Christlike. Love, Mom.

  4. Kim Gardner says:

    Beautifully put, Darriel. It was a privileged meeting you at CCC. You taught me much (about the rural communities you visited, for one) and I also learned a great deal from the girls and the adults working with them. The over-riding sense of the place was love, in all the relationships fostered there. I can see that clearly now, here in Copenhagen, networking for the next job as you put it. I wish I was back there, with all that love! Enjoy the rest of your time there. It is precious.
    Kim Gardner

  5. Mae Blaak says:

    Oh Darriel, I miss those girls to bits…

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