I recently asked my friend Jonathan if his Burmese community appreciates the people from Mission Hills bringing groceries and donating clothes.
He said, “Yes, they are very thankful. BUT…the thing they like most is when you pray with them and for their families.”
I said, “Really?? They’d rather have our prayers than a meal on their table?!?”
“Pastor…meals are good but prayers are best!”
It occurs to me when you grow up with scarce education, food insecurity, under military rule, and a persecuted faith…dependence on God is your best Resource. For a Christian who grows up in poverty and persecution, prayer isn’t something you do as a last resort. It’s a lifestyle. Prayer is a common as breath…inhaling the hope of God and exhaling praise and petitions to God.
The idea of offering “thoughts and prayers” to people in need has been criticized as inaction and a lack of care. But we also live in a culture of advanced degrees and material wealth. We’re a society that places a premium on self-sufficiency. Of course, offering both prayers and tangible gifts are needed. However, learning to trust and rely on God can feel so un-natural, if not uncomfortable.
Here’s what I learned from ‘church’ last week when a couple of groups from Mission Hills had breakfast in Burmese apartments.
We don’t help/serve/give to people in need in order to save them. We share our lives because we’re no different.
Practicing Compassion starts by spending time with people whose needs are different than our own. In the end, we need each other. Their dependence on faith and community continues to inspire. And, yes, we got to hear their concerns and enjoy a time of prayer together. Felt like a lil’ heaven on earth.