Long after our medical outreach to the community ended, the question, posed by someone during our debrief time, rang through my head. I had enjoyed our time, but felt convicted that I needed to process the afternoon more deeply.
So what did I learn, really?
My mind drifted back to an experience one of our teams shared. They had gone up and down one of the streets with literally no success. No one wanted to talk. No one wanted to open their door. The team had begun to get frustrated, and, on a twenty-degree day, it would have been easy to give up.
But they didn’t.
Instead, a nurse practitioner who lived in the community suggested they go to a corner store. Here again, the owners didn’t want to talk or take advantage of the free health screenings they were offered. So the team left.
But moments later, it seems the owners had a change of heart and invited them back. By the time they had left, they had screened a number of customers, asked about the community and established a good relationship with those they had connected with.
It was so successful, they tried it again at another corner store, with similar results.
So, what did I learn?
I learned that, when we really want something, we don’t give up when we face opposition. Instead, we admit we’re not big enough to ‘get it done’ and ask God to make another way. And, He often does, like He did for this team who wanted to love people for God in this community.
I also learned that trusting God, in the context of adversity, can lead to creativity that opens a window on new ways of doing things. I don’t think we would have tried the corner-store approach in the past, but the lack of response from our usual method forced the team to think and pray more creatively.
God gave a simple, yet brilliant, idea that transformed the day. In this culture, the corner store is not only a place to buy things, but a place to hang out and socialize with your friends from the community. People are already a little more at ease, and (no pun intended) feel less cornered than they might at home.
I’m not sure about you, but I know there are many times where I face opposition and give up. Because of what I saw today, the next time something doesn’t go as planned I’m going to ask God what He might be up to and pursue it further.
I hope that you will, too.