The other night I was invited to hang out with the campus ministry here in La Paz, Bolivia. We gathered together at a family’s house, ate dinner together and enjoyed sweet fellowship. I was incredibly humbled and honored to be there, spending time with these college students and I left with a heart overflowing, filled with God’s love. Here are six scriptures they reminded me of last night as I watched their example.
1. Encourage one another daily (1 Thessalonians 5:11) – We all gathered around the dinner table and Rodrigo handed out hand-made awards to every single person with their name on it and it included three qualities they were known for as well as a scripture on the back. It was really special, thoughtful, and encouraging.
2. Be joyful always (1 Thessalonians 5:16) – Everyone that came to the gathering was joyful in their own way – but I think it was because everyone was focused on the greater purpose of being together as a group, being unified and building each other up. I was amazed at the joy that overflowed from these kids – and that made it contagious. Not that we’re not allowed to have a bad day or bad moments – it happens, trust me, I know – but when the overwhelming majority are joyful it makes the room electric.
3. Continue meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) – We need each other and life is just better when we can see each other frequently, spend time together and be actively involved in one another’s lives. Simple concept… but it’s easy to get too busy and this takes a back seat. When I’m spending time together consistently with my close friends and other spiritually minded people, it has a huge influence on me, sharpening me, and encouraging me. In contrast, when I’m isolated and out of touch with those people, the effect is not a good one.
4. Give honor where honor is due (Romans 13:7) – This particular evening we were celebrating Maya’s birthday and also saying ‘farewell’ to Milton who had been leading the campus ministry. Additionally, they surprised me and officially ‘welcomed’ me to La Paz and to the Campus Ministry. Every person shared about Maya, Milton and Me – and the things they shared were really heartfelt and encouraging. When they said they were going to share about me I immediately felt uncomfortable because I barely had met half the people in the room and I didn’t want people to feel like they ‘had’ to share – but everyone did and I was blown away by the kind words and deep insights they shared. Overall, it just reaffirmed for me the power of one life, one person and the impact you can have – often times we don’t even realize it. But how special to have times like these when people actually verbalize and put into words the impact you have made on their lives and the gratitude they have. It inspires me to make the effort to share these things with people every day – no need to wait for a special occasion…
5. Show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2) – I walked into that house a stranger to many but I never once felt out of place. Everyone welcomed me as though I was a part of the family and made me immediately feel at home. I hope that I can do that for others when they are in a strange place and don’t know anyone. A lot of times it takes being aware of those around you, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and stepping outside your comfort zone to talk that person you don’t know that well as opposed to talking to your best friend the whole night because it’s ‘easy and comfortable’.
6. Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) – Life is just better when we’re grateful. I know for me, when I’m negative and critical, I am lacking in the area of gratitude. But the whole night was filled with people expressing gratitude towards one another. Gratitude for small things and big things… shared together creating stronger bonds of unity and love. Their example inspires me to make an effort everyday to express my gratitude to God and to others.