Ten Immanuel College students will ‘never be the same’ after a life-changing trip to Bethany Home (Malaysia), where they served young people living with disabilities. The trip was made possible through a partnership with LCA International Mission.
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No-one heard everything Jesus said, but for those who heard ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ it is enough inspiration to bring the power of God alive in a person’s life in their time of need.
I saw this firsthand in our students from Immanuel College, South Australia. From the moment of arrival at Bethany Home in Malaysia, without hesitation they got in among those around them. This mostly involved stooping down: to comfort, to wipe dribble, to take an arm, to grip a pencil, to put on a shoe. Our students humbled themselves to serve others.
At Bethany it is impossible not to be stirred by the needs of the people or see the happiness radiating out of them. I remember watching the sun setting in the darkness as I looked out the window during a worship service. Inside, where the lights shone brightly, people of all levels of ability were racing forward to the microphone to share something they had learnt, read scripture or sing a song, with utmost enthusiasm and joy.
I knew I was viewing the picture of others God has: people of infinite preciousness to their heavenly Father.
I was in awe of how staff and students set themselves aside, putting strangers first. For two weeks they gave up their time, energy, resources and hearts. It was hot, noisy and sleep didn’t come easily. Yet they fulfilled their call with generosity, compassion and grace.
As well as serving in practical ways, the team tended to the spiritual needs of people at Bethany; they led daily devotions, sang, read scripture, and prayed with and for the community.
There are always difficult times in a setting as challenging as a special school, and our presence meant additional companionship, hugs, advice and support for Bethany staff and students alike. My heart was overflowing to see people setting themselves aside to serve others. It was big.
‘I have given you an example to follow’, Jesus said to his disciples in John 13. Jesus is our example of how to live, love and follow God’s purpose.
I have never seen love shine more brightly than in Bethany Home. People were serving one another in love. Because of this, I am different now. Because I saw people think like Jesus, love like Jesus and truly respond like Jesus, I will never be the same again.
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