Happy New Year to all our readers! May we find and carry out our mission in 2020.
As a married Servant of the Gospel of God’s Mercy, I would like to tell you about my missionary activity in my daily life. My name is Kathrin. I am German, but have been living in Texas with my husband Abdul and two daughters Anna and Emma for the last 9 years.
Before I met the community, I used to think of missionaries as people who moved to other countries and handed out Bibles. It never occurred to me to consider myself as an evangelizer. That is why it is so powerful to me when I hear Pope Francis say that we are all called to be missionaries: “I am a mission, always; you are a mission, always; every baptized man and woman is a mission. People in love never stand still: they are drawn out of themselves; they are attracted and attract others in turn; they give themselves to others and build relationships that are life-giving….Each of us is a mission to the world, for each of us is the fruit of God’s love.”
As a mom who can’t just leave everything behind and move to Africa or South America, I find this very encouraging. I can be a missionary right where I am. Where does Jesus send me today? First of all, I have to be a missionary in my own family, by living the gospel in an authentic way, so I can be witness to my daughters. And then I need to be a missionary at work – which, in my case, is actually an easy thing to do, as it is part of my job description. I am an executive director of a small Christian organization called Neighbors in Action. The organization’s goal is to support a Latino neighborhood through a small community center. Most of the people are undocumented and live in constant fear of deportation. Almost everybody lives below the poverty line. Our organization offers spiritual and educational programs for children and young people (Bible sharing, small groups, prayer sessions, but also tutoring, summer camps, and music lessons).
As an executive director, I’m primarily responsible for management and fundraising, but also for overseeing women’s programs such as English, computer classes, parenting classes, etc. I personally host a moms group with women from Mexico, Honduras, and El Salvador, who meets every Monday for three hours to sing worship songs, to pray one another, to share our faith, and to read the Bible. I also record a daily devotional in Spanish called “Itinerary of Faith” and send it over Messenger / Facebook. The Itinerary of Faith – a curriculum of the Servants of the Gospel – is a year-long path to enter deeper into our identities as children of God, learn about God’s mercy and compassion in times we do not follow God’s plans for our lives, and then focus on the call to be a missionary community. Many of the moms I work with listen to the devotional every day, and even send it to family members and friends in Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador.
As a German, I have to admit that most South and Central Americans are more natural missionaries than me. Coming from a culture where faith is a very private affair and most people consider themselves agnostic or are a bit ashamed to admit they go to church, I learn so much from the moms I work with: how freely they talk about their relationship with God; how naturally they invite their neighbors to join our group; how much they trust God in the midst of horrific circumstances; how willing they are to sacrifice everything they have to help a neighbor in need; how they give out of a place of necessity, not abundance.
Together we go on weekend retreats and do many missional activities, such as prayer events in the community park, going to nursing homes to spend time with elderly people, and raising money for neighbors in need. Some of the leadership moms and I meet on a regular basis, and several of them host small groups in their homes. A couple of months ago, the moms hosted a taco sale to raise funds for Lucy, one of the few moms with a green card (which means she can travel). Lucy went on a mission trip to Cuba together with a group of people from a nearby church to bring much needed supplies to a partnership in Havana, but more importantly to pray with and be in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
No difference can be big enough to separate us from each other or the love of Christ, and we are invited to grow into this reality in our daily lives.