Out of a Sea of Faces
By: Donna Haug
July 30, 2003
As I drive around the streets of Maputo, Mozambique, I encounter a sea of dark faces, which tend to be so foreign to me. Their culture, thought patterns, and belief systems are so strange to my way of thinking. How can I relate to them? How can I see them as Jesus sees them?
When Jesus looked at the crowds of people who followed him around, he did not see just a sea of faces. He saw the individuals and had compassion on them. He saw their need and reached out to touch them at that very point. There were so many times that Jesus was looking for time to be alone. He could be tired or filled with sorrow and yet it seemed that every time he turned around another multitude had followed him! I would have been right there with the disciples trying to send them away to give Jesus some time for rest and quiet. But Jesus rebuked his disciples and told them to let them come. He encouraged them to stay. He ministered to their physical needs by healing them. He ministered to their emotional needs by reaching out, touching, smiling at them and loving them. He ministered to their spiritual needs not only by preaching to them in the synagogue, or preaching ‘at’ them, but by telling stories and teaching them in ways they could understand if their hearts were open.
That’s all fine. But how can I look into that sea of faces that confronts ME and see more then just a ‘multitude’? We have only been in Mozambique for one year. Being a mother of young children, I still tend to spend most of my day at home. I have a choice to make. I can isolate myself in my little Canadian island here at home and concentrate only on my family, or I can make an effort to get to know more Mozambicans personally. I believe that it’s only when I make the effort to reach out and learn to love these precious souls that they will become more then just a sea of faces. I have had the privilege to get to know a few Mozambicans with whom we work. Some of these have become very close and we become attached to their lives. As I slowly get to meet the families, see where they live and hear about what concerns them, this is when God can touch MY heart with compassion. I can feel a burden for a large group of people and feel helpless. What can I do? But when I am burdened for my friend who has a very particular need, I am motivated to respond. It is not my personality to get outside of my known circle of friends or to willingly leave my comfort zone. That’s not a very good quality for a missionary! This is not something that changes just because one happens to be overseas. In Canada I found I faced the same struggles. But God is teaching me to look for ways that He can use me with my personality to touch ‘SOMEBODY’ in this very needy land.
One of my favorite old hymns includes the line, “Jesus, use me and oh, Lord, don’t refuse me! Surely there’s a work that I can do!” My Lord knows my limitations and weaknesses. He knows frailties. How can God use ME? But God’s Word, which assures me that in my weakness He is strong, encourages me. I will continue to pray for the Lord to use me. I will continue to seek opportunities to ‘get out there’, to get to know PEOPLE and love them as Jesus would.
What sea of faces do you encounter day by day? Do you feel overwhelmed and not know where to start? Let me encourage you today to prayerfully ask the Lord to lead you to one person to whom you can reach out in love. Together, you and I can make a difference in at least one person’s life today. Whose face will you pick out of the crowd?
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Excellent! We encounter a sea of faces wherever we are, and wherever we go.. and many of them have the strains of life written all over them. This article has helped me to evaluate where I am with God and what He wants me to do, to help those sea of faces I encounter day by day. As an afterthought, God also brought to mind, 'How to people view me?'
This is so good and so timely. It is so easy to feel overwhelmed by the need of so many, even simple needs sometimes feel huge when one does not focus on "one-at-a-time". Thank you for this perfect and wonderful article.
So true Donna, and you're on the right track by praying for the opportunity to get to know, love and impact 'one.' Jesus did that too - He talked to the crowds but interacted (in the Gospel accounts) with individuals.
On a recent visit to the Philippines my son had arranged for us to paint the local prison, to show the love of Jesus. Following the transformation one prisoner spoke for his mates and told the story of the grandfather throwing back into the sea a few strrfish that had got washed up on the shore.
Why bother his grandson said there are thousands of starfish lying on the shore, what difference will throwing back one make? Grandson he said, "it will make all the difference to this one." Keep on shining.