Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Excuses

I met Dr. Jim Blechl last summer when he and his future son-in-law came down to MC3 to help with the construction. Because it is just who he is I did not know that Dr. Jim was one the managing physicians at the South Bend Medical Clinic for several months. Then last fall he and his wife Barb began to volunteer once a week during the SonCity After-school program. Then he began to serve on our programming team for MC3. But then he and Barb agreed to lead the medical team to India this summer and I got the privilege of eating, sleeping and doing outreach with Jim for almost two weeks. I know its not the water (because you can't drink it) but going to India causes friendships to form and deepen at an exponential rate - we became more than friends and he became a person that I want to model my life after.

So, here's a guy that runs a successful practice, is a managing partner in a growing medical clinic, has a wonderful relationship with his wife, has a son that will be a graduating senior in college this year and has a daughter that recently got married. The definition of western success regardless of any metric you might use. Jim could have given any reason not to volunteer and engage with people living on the margins. We would have accepted his response of "I'm sorry but I just can't..." with quick acceptance and little judgment but that's not the path Jim has chosen to walk. He builds margin into his hectic life so that he can serve, so he can hear what Jesus is asking him to do and then do it. The best way I know how to describe Jim is that he loosely holds onto life so that he can enjoy it and find pleasure in all he does where many of us try to hold on so tight that we end of strangling the very joy we are so longing to find.

I first met Melinda this spring when she walked into our first India team meeting and shared she wanted to go to India with the Conversational English team. Melinda is a vibrant young women who can light up a room with her quick smile and charming personality. Her faith is new and fresh and freely shares that she is not a seasoned Christian but wants to follow Jesus whole-heartedly.
Now, over the years I've had the chance to lead a lot of people on mission trips to Haiti, Mexico, Central America and India and I have seen robust young men turn into whinny 3-year olds after a few days of having to endure the elements of a third world setting. So, here's Melinda - never been out of the country, just starting her faith walk, 5'3" and not much more than a buck ten drippin' wet.
My first thought - this could get interesting and at the very least we will have some great stories to tell! Reality. She never missed a beat, pounded down what ever India dish that was given to her, was engaging with our host Indian families, rolled out her mat and slept on dirt floors, didn't even flinch when she walked into the Indian squatty potty and relished the opportunities when swarms of grade school children would drag her around the school courtyard. Without a doubt - Melinda had and will continue to have lasting Kingdom impact.

So you will have to forgive me if excuses sound very empty when someone says they can't serve because their life is just too busy or that they have so many business responsibilities that they just can't find the time because I will think of Dr. Jim. When someone excuses themselves because of their age, sex or how long they have known Jesus I will see the joy on Melinda's face while serving in those dusty, hot India schools. If someone truly wants to walk with Jesus and develop a servant's heart they will find ways to develop the courage to take their very next step. Jesus is ready and the world awaits.

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