Sharing Life: Develop a Heart for the World

people at a dinner table

Anyone who knows Charity Powell knows her heart for the world. Those who don’t know her soon learn. A world map in her office pinpoints past mission trips. Strings crisscross to photos with special meaning for each trip. As she points, Charity describes people and needs in each location—11 countries she visited in 11 months during a World Race to share Jesus and encourage believers. Tears fill her eyes as she recalls the man from Thailand who prayed 30 years for a church. She tells of Asian friends in New York City’s Jackson Heights. A bottle filled with an olive branch, rocks, a piece of a raft, and an orange heart-shaped piece of a life jacket from Greece’s Lesvos beach stands on the table underneath her map.

For a long time, refugees were not on Charity’s map. “I knew if I paid attention, I’d end up in Lesvos.” However, after helping with a refugee fund-raiser, she acknowledged, “The Lord gave me feet to go.”

Charity spent the first 5 weeks of 2016 on Lesvos, serving incoming refugees. Squeezed into rafts that did not always make the 4-mile ocean journey from Turkey, refugees from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan came in waves. Her heart broke because the mother of a newborn found that journey’s dangers safer than staying home.

Charity acknowledges she could not “fix” the refugee problem. However, she could “accept hugs and sloppy kisses from little kids.” She could listen to people’s stories and play soccer with them. Never in danger herself, she offered a safe welcome to those who fled danger.

She could also return home as an advocate for refugees. A clinical counselor and new student orientation coordinator at Campbellsville University, Charity helped organize a campuswide refugee simulation to open students’ eyes. Groups of students received a country assignment, a reason they must flee, and general directions to a camp. They encountered smugglers, guards, and borders along the way.

For people fearful of refugee ministry, Charity responds, “The closer you get to somebody, the less fear you have of them.” She suggests “inviting them to your table. Better yet, inviting them into your house to cook you a meal. Let your kids play together.” She explains refugee ministry is “all about sharing life more than forcing ideas, because my life should be exuding the gospel.”

She adds that accepting Jesus can be “very dangerous” for some refugees. However, “if I had been run out of my country, out of my home, by a group that claims to be serving the same god that I’m serving . . . this would be a crisis of faith for me. As a believer, I can come alongside them. What more of an open door is that?

“Jesus didn’t just say to love people who are like you. He said go and love.”

Try Charity’s refugee plan:

  1. Unlock your heart.
  2. Open your home.
  3. Listen to their stories.
  4. Share the Savior.

Diana Derringer serves with her husband as a friendship family to international university students. Her blog at DianaDerringer.com explains unusual English expressions for people with a non-English background.

 

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