On a Wellspring Interntional visit, it sounds as if you often encounter two groups of people: Christian’s showing Christ’s love and hurting individuals who may have never heard the Gospel. How do you encourage those two group? What are key verses and questions you start with?
Thank you for your question! You are correct that I often encounter both groups. With the nature of a Wellspring visit, it is priority that there be time to do both. I spend time with the staff of the organization getting to discuss what is on their hearts and what issues they might be facing. I also ensure that I spend time with the individuals they are working with and see the work in action.
For example, one of the organizations we support is a burn treatment center in India. The staff identifies burn victims through outreach in targeted underprivileged areas and treats anyone who has been burned through a free open clinic. The patients they see are primarily women and children who were burned by accident, suicide attempts or victims of domestic violence. Many are young girls who are victims of bride burning. Through the services provided by the staff, they have the opportunity to benefit from reconstructive surgeries, physical therapy, psychosocial rehabilitation, spiritual care, trauma treatment, microfinance loans and job training for a meaningful approach to healing and recovery.
When I visit this organization, I accompany the staff on their home visits to change dressings, participate in the open clinic, and have even had the opportunity to observe a reconstructive surgery. Through this, I am not only able to see the incredible work they are doing, but I also have the opportunity to talk with the individuals receiving those services, many of whom who are not believers.
As far as an approach, for me over the years, I have learned the value of not going in with an agenda, but rather listening to people. I do not necessarily start with any particular verses or questions. Rather, I try to allow them to lead the conversation and offer the gift of listening and being present. For both groups: the believers leading the organizations and the beneficiaries who may not know the Lord, approaching it with an open heart is crucial. I pray a lot on these visits-that my eyes would be open to truly see people and that my ears would be tuned to the words that ultimately lead to an individual’s heart. In my experience, the Holy Spirit is faithful to lead and guide my time and words when I am open to it.
The last time I was with this organization, I went with one of their incredible staff members to change burn dressings in a slum area. A young woman had acid poured on her by her father. She was covered in burns and had become an outcast in her community. Neighborhood children threw food at her like an animal. It was a heavy and dark scene to walk into. She sat in a dark, one room shelter. We carried in water to clean the burns. I remember sitting with her and holding her hand while her dressings were being changed. I looked her straight in the eye and talked to her. It was my hope that this small gesture, as someone who is carrying shame and isolation, would offer her dignity. Someone saw her and found her valuable enough to sit and talk with. From my experience, these seemingly small things can validate something so deep within someone. It can be an avenue to their heart and soul. For me, it is an honor that I have the opportunity to do so.