This post is part of the Freedom Friday series of AspiringAshley. For older posts in the series, click here.
Once upon a time, my family was normal. Well, fairly normal. My parents worked to pay the bills. We had the things we needed, and the things we didn't (within reason). They loved us and each other. We were active in our church. We helped our neighbors and supported missions. I worked at soup kitchens with the youth group. Sure, we filled our pool with bubble bath, danced in the kitchen, and once chased a squirrel around my bedroom, but mostly, we were just your average American family.
Then, Mom saw The Sign. "Hungry, please help." And things changed.
Her name was Mary, her husband was Bill. Some bad choices led them from success to the streets. To drugs and alcohol and a dirty mattress in the trees. But my mom saw past the dirt and the drugs and the sign to the woman beneath. That day, that one decision to stop and talk to the Woman With The Sign was the beginning of a ten year relationship, to a song, to a ministry.
There were court dates and housing agreements and hospital visits. There was laughter and there were tears. There were mistakes and there was forgiveness. But mostly, there was love. Love like Jesus. Because my mom didn't see a homeless couple. She saw her friends, Mary and Bill. She saw the potential and gave them hope, dignity, family.
And while I know there were times when it was painful and seemed hopeless, I know without a doubt that if you were to ask my mom today, "Was it worth it? Was befriending two drug-addicted homeless people worth it?" she would say yes in a heartbeat.
Because the thing is, when you think of missions, of ministry, of justice as just "work", it will wear you out. But when you think of it in terms of people...well, it changes everything. Justice becomes a lifestyle, the air you breathe, as natural as smiling. Justice becomes family. It's no longer "I have to do this to be a good person", but "I have to do this for a good person."
So when you say "Is it worth it?" the people who are coming along side the hurting are the ones who will respond, "well, duh!" while giving you an offended look. (Okay, maybe not...maybe I'm the only one who uses the "duh" anymore.) Micah Bournes puts it into words a little better than I do.
Is Justice Worth It? feat. Micah Bournes from World Relief on Vimeo.
I was 15 when Mary and Bill became family. Know what happens when your mom introduces a homeless couple into your life as family? It changes how you live life. How you view compassion and justice. My mom has shown me what Bournes put into words: "You never stop fighting for your own." You don't give up when it gets tough, you get stronger.
This world is full of injustice and evil. But it also holds wonder and freedom and love. The only remaining question is which side are you on? Call me crazy, but I'm on the side of wonder and love! I am free. I will use my freedom to free others.
Ponnammal, friend and co-worker of Amy Carmichael, was quoted as saying,
"Let us work until we drop, but let us never lower the standard." (From A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot. Go read it, it's one of my favorite, most inspirational books).
So let's fight injustice together. Let's stand on the side of the hurting and use our freedom to bring about their own. Let's fight with everything in us and never compromise for the sake of ease. Because it is always worth it.
To learn how to make victims of slavery part of "your own", connect with The Exodus Road.