Vincent Van Gogh is credited with saying, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Last summer, I spent nine weeks in New York City on an EMM GO! summer assignment, working with kids ages five to 13. While I was there, I stayed in an NYC apartment with a generous older couple.
I would listen to my hostess talk about her day at work. I learned that her boss was also her friend, and that the women would have deep conversations from time to time. The boss is not a Christian woman, but the women have established trust and my hostess has been able to share her faith. And it is evident from the way my hostess lives her life that she is a praying woman who cares about the people around her.
I also think of a kindergarten teacher I met last semester, as I observed classrooms at a local public school in preparation for my teaching degree. As she helped little hands hold pencils and cut out shapes, and little bodies dance and stay seated and stand in line, her faith shone through her teaching.
The teacher told me that her classroom has two rules:
- Do the right thing.
- Treat people right.
Just like the Golden Rule in Matthew.
Her advice to me was to love the kids. “If you love them, the other aspects of teaching will come.”
What good are small things?
While neither of these women is doing “big” things in ministry, all of the little ways they love the people around them adds up to a big difference, even though it doesn't always seem like it. Both of these ladies are living what we might call “normal” lives. They are in their home country, not a far-off mission field. But “the love of God has been poured out within [their] hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to [them]” (Romans 5:5).
And that love spills into the lives of those around them. It still sounds so simple, even though it is difficult to live out.
I know the Great Commission was given to us all, not just those who are called to go somewhere. Subconsciously, I tend to think it applies only to those who go out, because Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples ….” But in reading the rest of the Bible, I find that I must also reach out to those around me no matter where I am.
That truth sounds almost cliché, but let Jesus’ words in John 13:35 sink in:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I don't always know what that looks like for me. But the ordinariness of these women's lives proves to me that by God's grace, we can all live in mission right where we are. I'm encouraged by these examples of godly women living in mission, and how, with God, small things are multiplied into great things.
Sherida Cross was part of the 2011–2012 Southeast Asia YES team, and spent summer 2015 in New York City on a GO! summer assignment. She plans to begin teaching elementary school later this year. In her free time, Sherida enjoys spending time with friends, reading, playing the piano, and traveling. She lives in Middlebury, Indiana.