Come to the Margins

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Come to the margins, to the railroad track where houses were burned down and women are rebuilding with planks of wood, flattened powdered milk cans, and used clothing.

Come to the clinic and listen to the stories of grandmothers, of when they were nomads, of before the city was a city. Hear the heritage of folk tales and history.

Come to the elementary school and tutor the kids who strain to keep up in a language they don’t quite know yet.

Come to the stadium and watch the athletes train, see how their bare feet skim the track, hear how their teammates cheer and congratulate one another. Raise your voice with theirs.

Come to the market and learn how the local woman plants a garden, find out what she knows about seasons and soil and watering and protecting from hungry goats.

Come to the prison and offer a cold cup of water, a smile, an acknowledgement of the dignity of each person, even those behind bars, made in the image of God.

Come to the bank and discover the entrepreneurial spirit of women’s savings groups and small business plans.

Come to the margins and ask those here to pray for you. You can pray for them too but don’t come with the assumption that you are the only one able to bless.

Come, but don’t come to save. Come to be alongside on a journey. Offer your hand and your own stories of your grandmother, the first college graduate in your family. Your experiences of sports training and team camaraderie, your illnesses and academic struggles. Bring your brokenness, your loneliness, your confusion and doubts.

Come to the margins with your songs and stories, painting and photographs, teaching plans, and financial portfolios. Come with all your creativity and labor and insights and experiences.

Come to the margins bringing your addiction to accumulating stuff, the idolizing of money and appearance. Bring your fear of not measuring up, your envy and greed.

Come to the margins and find joy there, creativity, hard work, companionship, forgiveness, and a great sense of humor. Come and join and see the unique strengths and gifts and, if necessary, with humble wisdom, offer a hand. Receive a hand.

Come to the margins, aware of your own poverty and of how it doesn’t define you and of how it drives you to your knees and makes you desperate for God. Come but don’t use the margins as a place to soothe your conscience.

Come without condescension or preconceived ideas. Come without expecting to see nobility in suffering, expect to see pain and healing and sin and victory. Come with a willingness to look beyond what is lacking. Come, not to find a representative story but a precious individual. Come, not to see a saint or a sinner but a complex, three-dimensional person with gifts and dreams and skills.

Come and hear, and then leave without bearing simple answers or soothing platitudes or generalizations. Come and see, and then go and tell, tell the world there is more to Haiti than rape and earthquakes and orphans, more to Somalia than hostage-taking and al-Shabaab, more to Syria than refugees. Come and taste, and then go and speak in a way that doesn’t leave a flavor of pity but of common humanity.

Come with nothing, if nothing is what you have and when nothing is the best thing you have. Nothing in your hands so they are wide open to receive, and to hold. Or, sometimes, come with a piece of bread and a fish and see what Jesus does with it, for all of us, even for you, even for me, here in the margins.

Come, outside the city gates, where Jesus went. Jesus is here, in the margins. He is there, outside the margins too but sometimes it is easier to see him here. Meet him fresh here, take off your shoes here, find yourself swept up in the glorious and global adventure of hope. Here, in the margins.

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“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…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:35-40

Image Credit: flickr | Design: Tina Francis

Editor’s Note: Rachel is currently in transit from New York to Djibouti today. She will respond to your comments once she is settled in at home. Thank you for your patience!

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Rachel Pieh Jones
Rachel Pieh Jones has written for the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, EthnoTraveler, the Desiring God blog, and Skirt. She lives, writes, and runs in Djibouti with her husband and three children. She blogs at www.djiboutijones.com.
Rachel Pieh Jones
Rachel Pieh Jones

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