It gave the usual updates and then announced an exciting new ministry. A group of believers is now serving in a leper colony. They clean wounds, cook meals, and bathe the people afflicted with this disease.
I stood in my kitchen with the letter in my hands - stunned. Lepers! They are washing the wounds of lepers!
What did I do today?!?
Dennis returned late that same night and while he was shaving I sat on the bed and asked him, "What did YOU do today?" He listed a few items and I asked, "Do you want to know what OTHER people were doing?" I read our missions letter.
He dropped his head back and groaned, "Do you want us to move to a leper colony, Michelle?" (He is used to these conversations if you didn't already guess.)
"No. But I am asking ... how are we using OUR free time to enlarge the Kingdom? How are we serving 'the least of these?' How many people know Jesus - because they know the Eastmans?"
Silence. From both of us.
The following evening we called a family meeting with the older boys, shared the same story, and asked the same question.
We spent an hour discussing our family life.
We are a family of eight able-bodied people who could do so many things using the skills and passions the Lord has placed in each of us, yet every one of us squanders, at least, two hours per day. At best, the time is spent on self rather than others. At worst, the time is completely unredeemable because the activities are worthless.
We asked the boys to think about their skills and interests because children and teens do not need to wait until they are adults to change the world for Jesus Christ. They can serve Him NOW. Right where they are. We challenged them to think about what can they do to serve others - and affect eternity - today - at the age of 16, 14, and 12? "Do not let anyone look down on you because of your youth."
We talked about our family motto:
Soldiers for Christ.
Protect the Innocent
Defend the Weak
Fight the enemy
Stand firm in the faith
"He has shown thee, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you. To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8
It sounds great.
Are we LIVING it?!?
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2
We agreed to pray as individuals and come back together to continue the conversation.
Fast forward a week.
I sat in a chair with my toes in the sand while listening to a dear sister share her struggles and sorrows, her victories and joys.
As I listened, my discomfort grew.
Have I served her? Have I been a faithful friend?
Lord, You have been stirring me up to do MORE. Our family is healthy and strong and able to serve, but no opportunity has presented itself.
Now, here I am, looking into the eyes of a hurting, desperate friend who happens to have three rescued orphans living in her home, and right now this family needs a life ring the size of Kansas.
Is this who You want us to serve? Is this who we have been waiting for?
I graciously interrupted my friend and asked if I could tell her a story. The same story I described above.
When I finished, I looked her in the eyes and said, "You are our lepers!"
And she started to cry.
Dennis and I have surrendered adoption to the Lord.
Dennis was adopted, so we naturally have a tender heart for this wonderful calling.
The Lord has not delivered an orphan to the Eastman home, however, and He may never do so.
And, we do not have to adopt an orphan to be obedient to Scripture.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
No orphan bears our name, but we are surrounded by people who have shared their name ... and we can serve THEM.
Sometimes we (humans) think we have to do EVERYthing, or save EVERYone, and it feels overwhelming, or we don't know where to start - so we end up doing nothing.
It's true. We cannot save everyone, but each of us can do something, and we must seek the Lord's wisdom to know what that 'something' looks like.
As believers, we don't have a choice. "Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to Me."
Ignorance is bliss.
But once we are aware - we are ACCOUNTABLE.
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1
The Lord was not yet finished stirring up compassion for orphans in the Eastman home.
He put it on my heart for our family to watch this movie together.
To be honest, I have been avoiding it for quite a while, because I knew it was going to break me. I wasn't wrong.
We watched. In silence.
I soaked in every scene, every word, and shed many tears.
When it ended, no one spoke. A somber group inhabited our family room that night.
I needed a moment alone, so I stepped into our bedroom, grabbed a pillow, sat down on the bed, and began to weep. The weeping turned into sobbing. I could not wrap my mind around what I had just seen.
Dennis entered the room and said quietly, "I knew this is how I would find my wife."
He held me until the sobbing stopped, at which time I looked at him and asked, "There are too many lepers, aren't there?"
He nodded solemnly and said, "Yes, there are."
"So what are we going to do? We can't be people who watch something like that, see the need, say, "Oh, how awful," cry - and then do nothing. What are we supposed to DO?"
We don't know the answer to that question.
We don't know why the Lord is stirring our hearts, making us uncomfortable, and convicting us about how we spend our time as a family, but He IS.
And you know what? We don't have to know the 'why' - because we know the One who does know! All we have to do, is obey.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29