Who Is Our Neighbor?

“The first question the priest asked himself was: ‘if I stop and help this man, what’s going to happen to me?’ but the good Samaritan changed the question: ‘if I don’t stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ -Dr. Martin Luther King 
  We live in a very selfish world in which everyone is looking for their own happiness; where carnal desires and luxuries rule. There’s always a push to arrive at the high place in society and be an “important person.” In actuality, all the effort we exert to please the world and do what it asks us to do is taking us away from the real concept of how to live and be truly happy.

  Happiness is complex and we never will know it fully as we continue searching to fulfill our own desires. A couple of weeks ago while on a service-learning trip in San Pedro Sula we reflected on the words of Dr. King, which answer the question of the Lord Jesus, ‘who is our neighbor?’ During our week in San Pedro, our youth did not save lives or heal physical wounds, but we did contribute our bit to serve our neighbor. We saw the presence of the Lord Jesus in the lives of the children at “Senderos de Amor” Orphanage, served in the feeding ministry of “Manos Unidas in Cristo” and spent time with kids at the Children’s Cancer Center. It was in these places that I realized that we live in a bubble; a bubble in which we seek to be comfortable in our everyday lives. When I saw those smiles from children with special needs, and instantly received the friendship of kids suffering from a terrible disease as if we had known each other our whole lives, it led me to think that happiness is in the small moments and details. Those moments made me forget I had a cold and was exhausted from the trip. I began to enjoy each moment, to contribute and learn from the little ones and my teammates. We had such a great experience together that we already began to look forward to going back and reliving those moments. For the first time in a long time I felt true happiness. I was with people who were not going to demand anything of me, but who’s only thoughts were of giving smiles, hugs, friendship, and hope … It is worth pausing and putting aside our daily worries to lift up our eyes and look around us to see the wonderful people and places waiting to draw a genuine smile out of us; it’s one of the few things that are free and contagious in life. 

  I came back thinking how little we brought to the people at the service sites, but it was definitely worth the visit. Some would say, ‘how great that our youth were able to go and cheer up those children!’ But I dare say it was the opposite; ‘how great to have the privilege of being in those places receiving the blessing, love and message from God telling us that our neighbors are the people most in need, and if we help these people we are helping God!’ As the Word says in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

  How powerful is the message of God for our lives. I think that when we give our hearts to others it slowly helps us to become less selfish and live happier and more grateful lives. After the trip I realized that I need to say “thank you” more often, and ask for less; smile more and get angry less, give more and expect to receive less, have more sincere friends and less material things, meet more people, support them and fulfill the Great Commission of carrying the gospel of salvation to the world. What better way to do just that by serving our neighbor, those who are in the most need. 

Luis Ortiz, Trekkers Volunteer

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