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Don't Serve Them — Meet Them
The guest on Speaking of Faith was Yoga expert Seane Corn. She had been talking about her own journey and discovering through Yoga the essential need to reach out to others — to serve. She discovered an organization, Children of the Night, which deals with helping teenage prostitutes. She went and decided to teach them Yoga as a way of helping them and their self-esteem, body-esteem, etc. It was a disaster. Ms. Corn said:

"… You could just see the darkness on these kids, and they seemed to me in that moment as hopeless. … I went into my car and I was really emotional and I was just thinking these kids are messed up. They're never going to get better. They're going to go back out into the world, you know, as criminals, and going on and on in my head. It always takes me a while to kind of, you know, where I always think spirit's saying, like, 'You done yet? You going to wake up to this yet?' Because I realized that I had just met the part of myself that I had denied, that I called into my experience the child in me that had been, that is, defiant and angry and scared to death and has absolutely zero tools for healing."

That's where she began to describe for me what mission is really all about, what happens so often on short-term mission trips, and the problem with mission as we have almost always described it.

"And, honestly, God is hysterical, and I get the joke really, really late always. Because I got exactly God was saying, 'It's time. It's time. You can't deny this. If you really want to heal and open your heart to love, then you've got to find the places within you that's disconnected from God. And I'm giving you an opportunity. Go back. And don't serve these girls; meet them. Go and meet you.'"

I was literally taken up short, that insight was so on-target. So many different thoughts came to mind. One was Jesus saying to his disciples, in essence, you are no longer servants, you are my friends. To serve others can set up hierarchy and position and, in these types of situations, a better-than-them attitude.

Second, if we are open to the Spirit saying "You done yet? You going to wake up to this yet?" we will turn and see ourselves and something about ourselves that needs to be healed. The places we go to work and serve, the mission we seek, is always one that is inward and outward, two-ways: me to you and you to me. Healing is found for our own needs that we didn't even know we had from those we thought were the ones in need. No wonder people always come home from short-term mission trips and say they got more than they gave. They discovered the mutuality of the faith and of love.

It doesn't matter whether we are talking about a faith-based service, a deep felt-need to help others, or some drive to do something. That drive comes from someplace where we may need healing or growth ourselves. That's what Seane Corn taught me in one short but powerful moment.

Under it all was the awareness that when we do mission we are not, repeat, not going as the ones with the answers to give to those who are less fortunate. We are going to meet others with whom we learn to live and work.

If it were Christmas, we would call that Incarnation.