I have been back "home" for 3 days now. I have done a bit of debriefing and a lot of sharing since I returned home. I am faced with a pile of reading and more emotions than my body can handle. I have slept a lot, cried a lot, and find myself with one foot planted in Nica and the other walking through life back here in Southern Indiana.
And so I begin to process the experience. In our closing worship a member of the group read from Matthew 25:31-46
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“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.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
As she read the passage and reflected on it I began to think that as an American I am so accustomed to reading that passage in a way where I am the one doing for the least of these...however, in Nica I was the least of these. Sylvia, Alexandra, and Maria were feeding me, giving me shelter, giving me something to drink, they were loving me when I was in a very different place out of my comfort zone and at times wondering why in the world I was in Nicaragua.
Riding around in Managua I saw a huge statue of Jesus, and when I saw it I turned to another person in the group and said "Look, I found Jesus, he is in Nicaragua!" I was joking when I said it, but the more I reflect on my experiences in Nicaragua the more I realize I was face to face with Jesus every time a person welcomed me into their home or business. I saw Jesus in the way the people of Nicaragua were taking care of one another and even us strangers from a country that has done a lot of harm.
I saw in Nicaragua the outcome of Christians living as a people set apart, people who put others before themselves and who humbly serve as Christ served.
This experience was not just an eye opening experience to the world of Fair Trade, but it was an eye opening experience to what it means to live ones faith in a way that is loving and just and right in this world. It can be done, it is being done, we just have to look in places we least expect it and be open to receiving it.