For the next five days I’m speaking at a seminary outside of San Jose, Costa Rica, where people ages 18-35 from around the world are gathering to talk about how we can work together to make a difference in the world.
Yesterday I met people from Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines and the U.K.
At lunch, I sat next to a 24-year-old named Hector who is fromHonduras. As we were eating, he told me he was a pastor in one of the most impoverished villages in his country.
I asked him how he came to be a pastor, and he laughed. He told me that six years ago, his pastor took him aside and asked if he’d be interested in helping to pastor their church.
Hector laughed as he said, “I told him ‘No way in hell!'”
But four years ago, he was sitting in a church service “and my feet began to float and my heart began to race and I felt God’s hand on my shoulder and I knew when I left that place that I had received my calling.”
Hector raced home to tell his family about his calling to pursue ministry. His mother promptly declared that if he went to seminary, she would disown him. His brother said the same. They told him that being a pastor is too dangerous and too difficult, and all pastors are poor.
But Hector went to seminary anyway, and now he pastors a church full time.
I asked him how he could take such a costly risk, and he said, “Because Jesus changed my h—” he thought for a minute, searching for the right English word.
But instead, Hector said, “Because Jesus changed my hands.”
As he said that, he put down his fork and held his hands out to me, palms up.
“My family is wealthy,” he said. “And six years ago I did not want to go into ministry because I wanted to earn money and have luxuries and have status. And being a pastor means I am one of the poorest people in my own congregation. But Jesus changed my hands because instead of grabbing for things, I began reaching for people.”
Hector flashed a humble smile as he took another bite of chicken, and washed it down with a sip of mango juice.
In the afternoon, there were discussion groups about what we can do about four huge issues the world is facing: environmental crises, human trafficking, immigrants & refugees, and poverty.
As I thought about the abundance we have as Americans — our 5,000 square foot houses and SUV’s that get 9 miles to the gallon and $150 cable bills and weekly mani-pedi’s and $5 lattes and …
It’s not that any one thing is bad or wrong. It’s just that together, the whole picture of life in the U.S. is that we have more luxuries and conveniences and extravagances than we need while our brothers and sisters around the world are hurting and, yes, actually dying.
Last night I fell asleep to this question, and I woke up to the same question gain today.
What would happen in our world if we let Love change our hands so that instead of grabbing for things, we began reaching for people instead?