Reflections from the IO Gathering

by Suzette Tay Lee

Over a month has passed since the International Office (IO) Gathering at the Hands Village, which brought over a dozen Hands management team volunteers from around the world to South Africa. While the busyness of life here in the U.S. eagerly engulfed me upon my return, I still find myself pausing occasionally to reflect on the experience -- and smiling with appreciation as I recall how the Holy Spirit moved freely throughout that special gathering. Two points are lingering on my heart at this moment:

How ARE you doing?

On a typical day, I might greet friends and colleagues with "Hi, how are you?" or return a greeting with "I'm doing fine, thanks, and you?" I utter these words almost out of habit, often not really taking the time to delve into how the others are REALLY doing. But from the moment that Jackie kicked off our IO Gathering with the simple but poignant question, "How ARE you doing?" -- and we each took turns sharing burdens on our hearts and minds -- I started finding myself being genuinely interested in knowing the answer and being more willing to be vulnerable to share as well. I'm wanting to learn to ask the right questions that could shift my conversations, no matter how brief, from the superficial to a deeper level. I yearn for my time with others to be more meaningful. I want my concern and care for others to come across more readily. Jesus was not superficial with anyone He encountered; rather His deep compassion for them came across right away. I desire to do the same with those whom God has placed in my life.

Allowing for interruptions

Our group discussion of the healing of the blind man (Mark 10:46-52) and the lame beggar (Acts 3:1-10) revealed that much of Jesus' ministry was based on allowing Himself to be interrupted. No matter how busy He was or whether He was on His way to another appointment, Jesus was ready to pause and redirect His attention to the need at hand. This lesson shined a light on what I consider my priorities. I'm often quite task-oriented and, as a result, may not be as sensitive or attentive to unexpected needs that come up. At Hands, though, we say we are “one-by-one people.” Our relationships with individuals are important, just like our personal relationship with Jesus is so important. I learned that one way we can foster relationships and emulate Christ is by making time for others and pausing to care and listen in the midst of our busy lives -- even if that might require us to be interrupted.

I am so grateful for my time at the gathering and am challenged to apply the experience to my daily life. I find great comfort and encouragement in knowing that "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13).