After my first visit to serve at Mother Teresa’s homes in January 2009, I returned home with a new resolve — to mobilize others to do the same. I noted in one of my first blog posts that the experience challenged and changed me because it forced me to close the distance between myself and the least of these. My travels to that point had taken me to places where I had seen the worst of human suffering — places like Darfur and Bangladesh and post-earthquake Pakistan. However, I had always been able to maintain a safe and sterile distance from the hurting and dying. Serving at Mother Teresa’s homes changed all of that. It only took minutes for me to realize that it is impossible to serve the least of these at her homes without coming into direct contact with broken and bruised humanity. The experience stretched me and did something good deep in my heart, the kind of stuff that can happen only when we close the distance between ourselves and those who are hurting.
I am excited to be returning to Kolkata with our high school graduates. I know that God is going to do really good things in and through them as they too close the distance in order to minister to the destitute and dying. Having mobilized many volunteers to serve at Mother Teresa’s homes, I am confident that the experience will change our students in good ways and that they will return home more sensitized and ready to serve others in their own community and beyond. I wrote the following in January 2009…
You don’t have to travel to Kolkata to serve the poor, but you must be willing to close the distance that separates you from the poor in your own community. Distance is what keeps us from looking into the faces of those in need and hearing their own distressing stories. Distance is what keeps us from holding dirty hands and connecting with hurting humanity in a personal way. What will it take for you to close the distance between you and someone in need? Take the first step and then add another until you begin to see people clearly and to hear them distinctly.
Thanks for praying for our team as we head to Kolkata. I will post updates on our adventure throughout the coming days.