Posted by: Emily Shemwell | February 15, 2010

February Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

The emails are flowing in this month as volunteers want to serve meals at Jeff. Street. As the coordinator of meal volunteers for the shelter, I’m seeing many new folks desire to get involved in the vision of Jeff. Street’s mission, “Community. Transformation. Christ.” As these emails come into my Gmail inbox, I filter them by adding labels. An email from a volunteer interested in serving a meal receives the label “Meals;” an email from my aunt gets the label “Family;” an email from a teammate receives the label “Hope;” and a message from a community group leader at my church obtains the label “Sojourn.”

Just like the emails in my inbox, so many times I label others around me. I define the people I serve by what they do or don’t do – Addict. Drunk. Bum. Felon. I classify them by their situation or circumstance – Widow. Runaway. Druggy. Victim. I label them instead of loving them. Before I know the emotions of their heart and understand their circumstances, I view them as the label I’ve given them.

Pastor and author Henri Nouwen states that, “In the face of the oppressed I recognize my own face, and in the hands of the oppressor I recognize my own hands. Their flesh is my flesh, their blood is my blood, their pain is my pain, their smile is my smile.” In his book The Irresistible Revolution, Christian activist Shane Claiborne elaborates that, “We are made of the same dust. We cry the same tears. No one is beyond redemption. And we are free to imagine a revolution that sets both the oppressed and the oppressors free.”

Do I sincerely believe that no one is beyond redemption? Do I believe the man who shouts at me “I don’t like you anyway” can be redeemed? Do I believe the woman who beat up and murdered my frail friend, James, is beyond redemption? Do I believe the man who degrades women with his smug remarks and long glances can be redeemed?

While my verbal reply to these questions is “yes,” it’s not always the reply of my heart and mind. I find it difficult to always believe that these three people are not beyond redemption. Yet, they are. No one is beyond redemption. So many times my flesh steps in and I see them through the eyes of my labels instead of who they truly are. I fail to see those I’m serving as children of God who are in need of His redemption, grace, and love; I fail to see them through the eyes of Jesus. I fail to see that they are no different than me. They are as equally broken as I am; they are as equally in need of a Savior.

Pray that I have the eyes of Jesus daily as I serve our homeless guests and Jeff. Street residents. Pray that I have eyes of love, eyes that look past the flesh, eyes that see Him in everyone. Pray that I daily deny my fleshly labels, attitudes, and thoughts in order to pour out Christ’s love to those He desires me to minister to.

Thank you for your faithful prayers and financial support of God’s work in Louisville. I am still in need of financial contributions. I have raised about 35% of my $7700 goal for my mission here. Please prayerfully consider how you can contribute to the work God is doing. If you can give a lot, give a lot. If you can give a little, give a little. I challenge you to be obedient to how God is calling you to be involved in His work. God is on the move and it’s humbling to be a small part of such a magnificent power behind a bigger movement. Won’t you join me?

Blessings and Love,

Emily

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