Lenten Daily Devotionals

Compelled to Give Back

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. —Hebrews 13:2

I was baptized at a Presbyterian church in the Philadelphia suburbs. My family was active in the church, and so was I. But after I left home for college, I stopped attending church. Cold turkey. I didn’t look back.

Many years and many cities later, I moved to New York, not far from Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. I was starting a banking career, and working was my only activity outside of sleeping. Eventually, I felt the pull to find a community and to give back to society. I attended Fifth Avenue a few Sunday mornings and found its size overwhelming at first. But soon I went to a new members’ class, where the guest speaker was Joe Vedella, the director of homeless ministries at the time. That was it! The idea of becoming involved in something real like that overcame my uncertainty about re-engaging in church life. I joined shortly thereafter and have been involved ever since.

Last October, I was privileged to be part of the mission trip to the Mexican border. I work in Latin America and wanted to give back to the region and people I have come to love. In Agua Prieta, Mexico, we worked with Frontera de Cristo, an amazing organization that helps people who are trying to start a new life. The migrants want what we all want and deserve: to be free from poverty, violence and despair. The journey they make just to have a safe life is frightening and awe-inspiring. I am proud that the church is supporting this worthwhile mission.

“What is our response to our brothers and sisters waiting in line for a chance for life?” José Luis Casal, the director of Presbyterian World Mission, once asked. “I saw Jesus lying on the ground when I crossed back into the United States. And I am here to tell you that we are called to make things just and fair. We must be God’s eyes and ears and hands… and heart.”

Lord, help us to bring comfort to those suffering immensely. Let us remember that each day we help someone we are helping you. Amen.

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