Have you even been seated at a restaurant, only to be left at the table, without food or drinks, while dozens of wait staff whisk by you without so much as a ‘be right with you’? Or how about a Doctors office when they are running late; have you ever found yourself sitting in those uncomfortable chairs for what seems like an eternity, reading outdated magazines, just waiting for the nurse to call your name? What type of emotions do these experiences cause; frustration, anger, ressentment…Now, can you imagine for a moment experiencing this everyday. Not just being ignored in restaurants of left to wait by a doctor, but existing 24 hours a day on the very margins of society. I am talking about the poor, the elderly, and the sick, the people who feel neglected and ignored not just by waiters and receptionists, but by society as a whole.
Ephantus is a Compassion International student living in Ghana Africa. He lives in extreme poverty, and his family is troubled. His mother is a committed christian, but his father struggles with alcohol abuse. Ephantus shares his story in the book Hope Lives: A Journey of Restoration. He writes about being told that God is love, but never being able to connect with that idea because he never experienced love in his own life. Ephantus is a victim of not only material poverty, but poverty of the heart; poverty on a spiritual level. He feels ignored, unimportant, unloved, and unlovable. His life is spent at that proverbial table, just waiting for someone to notice him, just waiting to matter. He goes on to write about how his life changed when he started receiving letters from his sponsor, a man named Jack who loved 8,000 miles away.
“When I was 15 I got my first Christmas card. Mr. Jack Macdonald wished me a Merry Christmas. It blew me away that someone cared so much to send me a card. That was 10 years ago, and I still keep that card with me today. Today I understand what love is. I’ve never seen God, but I know love because my sponsor whom I have never seen showed me love” (pg. 111).
Today Ephantus is in full-time ministry. His father stopped drinking and began walking with the Lord. Because someone cared enough to demonstrate God’s love, through words, Ephantus was able to rise above the oppression of heart-poverty. The devil would have Ephantus believe that he is unimportant and insignificant. We know, however, that God loves Ephantus, that He knit him together in his mother’s womb, and knows the exact number of hairs on his head. God created only one Ephantus, and gave him a gift to do something amazing and important. If the devil had his way, Ephantus would never realize his significant, his own personal type of genius, and God would receive none of the glory from Ephantus’ story. But someone reached out, with words of mercy, and changed the course of Ephantus’ story.
Words of Mercy are just one way we can speak love into people’s’ lives. There are plenty of people just like Ephantus, maybe it is your elderly neighbor, or a child down the street. There are people everywhere who don’t know that God created them to do something unique and important. You can make people feel significant everywhere you go; at the grocery store you can take a minute to talk with the person who bags your groceries, make it a point to remember her name. You can have a cup of coffee with a neighbor, and listen to their story. Simply give someone your time, your attention, and your words.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
Symbol of Mercy in the Ordinary