Meet Emily. My beautiful sister-in-law and beloved aunt to my three kids. For the past several months Emily has babysat for me every Friday morning. She does this so that I can serve a local Syrian refugee family. During these mornings I either work with “M” who is diagnosed with autism, play with “J” and “B” so that their mom can get housework done, or drive them to various appointments. Sometimes these appointments are unexpectedly prolonged, like a few weeks ago when I took “J” and “B” to the pediatrician. Between a crowded waiting room, having to find translators, and filling out paperwork, Emily ended up watching my kids for almost 5 hours when it was supposed to be 3. I couldn’t do this “on the ground” work of helping refugees, if Emily wasn’t doing the behind-the-scenes work of watching my kids. I involve my kids in the ways that I can, but the needs of this particular family make it difficult to do so. Without Emily’s help, my service to them would be far more restricted.
This need for “behind-the-scenes” help is essential to almost all “on the ground” ministry. Emily’s been my most consistent source of help, but I’ve experienced it in many other ways as well. When my Syrian friend had a c-section, I spent a good portion of the week at her house watching her other children. I couldn’t have done this without my mom, mother-in-law, and sisters watching my kids. I delivered dinner every day, but I didn’t cook at all… friends offered to make meals for me to bring. I brought them groceries, but I didn’t buy any of them… other friends gave me gift cards to grocery stores so that I could keep their refrigerator stocked. In the 8 days after her c-section, SIXTEEN of my friends, family, and church members helped share the burden of caring for this refugee family.
And that’s just my story of experiencing behind-the-scenes help.
One of my best friends is a foster/adoptive/bio mama who advocates for foster children and supports foster parents through blogging, speaking events, and a newly launched non-profit. She’s always had a pretty incredible capacity, but even she couldn’t juggle all those plates without behind-the-scenes help. Her mom usually babysits twice a week, which frees her to spend time blogging, preparing for speaking engagements, and working for her nonprofit.
Last week at a homeschool co-op, another friend was holding a different baby every time I saw her. None of them were hers. They were all her friends’ foster babies. But by serving in behind-the-scenes ways, she’s strengthening other women for the ministry of foster parenting. She is refreshing the refreshers, supporting the supporters, nurturing the nurturers.
The more I’ve grown a personal commitment to a lifestyle of mercy, the more I’ve recognized how vital this corporate commitment is. God doesn’t save us to live out our faith as lone wolves. He’s saved us to be the church–His Bride–sanctified and sent to display His goodness to a broken world. And for us to minister to the refugee, the orphan, the widow, and the poor in the way that He’s designed, we must work in unity together: “on-the-ground” and “behind-the-scenes”.