I went on an Agape Run yesterday. An Agape Run consists of a pack of Americans piling into a van with food and second-hand clothing, to help some of the less fortunate of Romania. A popular quote in Christian circles these days is Francis of Asissi's "Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words," and these trips are the fulfillment of this - we usually can't communicate with these people at all, we just stumble through as best we can, hoping our actions and our Romanian New Testament speak where we cannot.
I mention this especially because I haven't been feeling too well the past few days. I've been exhausted and lightheaded and generally unenthusiastic about all things ministry. But I got up and I went along. We loaded up the van and visited several families, all of whom had handicapped children. We visted a smiling crippled girl, bedridden since a car accident at age six. At 29, she lies on her stomach as a result of a painful ulcer resulting from her handicap, and waits for the night, when she can sign on-line and visit a world where no one cares if her legs work or not. We sat uncomfortably in her room, as everyone tried to say helpful things about her handicap, as if to console her about a condition to which she had clearly already resigned herself. Eventually we all ran out of sympathetic commentary and left.
We visited a set of twins who had cerebral palsy among various other unknown complications. They failed to acknowledge our presence as we walked in, and we suspected that they might be partially blind, as well. We tried to talk to them, but they stared off into space uncomprehendingly, clinging to a crude set of parellel bars. Their mother informed us that in a few weeks they would be travelling to Oradea to visit a doctor who works with many cases like this. "He has healed many children," she said, with hope somehow still triumphant in her eyes.
I don't think it's enough to say that I was ashamed for feeling sorry for myself.
But the fact remains that when I woke up this morning, feeling tired and achy, I just lay there and felt sorry for myself again.