Serving The Homeless...With A Song & A Prayer

Growing up, I would always listen to this song in church. It is the prayer of generosity sang by Jesuit Priests as they serve the poor community of the Philippines:

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous; 
teach me to serve you as you deserve, 
to give and not to count the cost, 
to fight and not to heed the wounds, 
to toil and not to seek for rest, 
to labor and not to seek reward, 
except that of knowing that I do your will. 

I have always been exposed to service, as it was an important part of the curriculum in school. They taught us how it would mean to the people we help, how it will impact their lives, and how I can make a difference. 

Today though, was different. Today, it was about what they did for me. 

My family and I left the Philippines seeking a better life in America - the land of promise, the land where dreams come true, my Disney. As I started working in an underserved community in the South Bronx I realized that like the Philippines, there are numerous issues I needed to open my eyes to, that there is an opportunity to serve. 

I was always in the periphery of the church, one of the last ones in and the first one out. I had a short stint singing, but was too insecure to sing alongside the worship team. So, I started singing in the nursing home. I met Pastor Sanetta, Deborah Moore, and Lottie Johnson through Metro's Justice, Advocacy, and Compassion ministry. I grew more and more confident of what I could do to join the activities of our church. 

My husband and I talked about doing something to spend the day together - our date. It could have been dinner, happy hour, or maybe watching a movie. However, something about Pastor Sanetta's invitation invoked us to change our routine date nights! And so we did it together with extraordinary men and women from the church. We were ready to make a difference! And what a difference it made - not to them, but to me. 

I see Deborah and Lotte, who almost always makes themselves available to serve in every activity in church. I see Mike Smith, who despite my almost invisible singing stint in church, remembered my name and welcomed my husband, Ben, with the most "What's up, bro?" hug! Then there were us "newbies", who similarly felt that this was a life changing, humbling experience for us...

We were blessed to have met all the different individuals from Family Promise. We got to share smiles and stories with them in the few minutes we spent together. In those few minutes, I felt God embracing me with His loving arms and reminding me that this is the Land of Promise. And the promise is not my fortunes, my blessings, or my beautiful career. The promise is community. 

So tonight, I sing my song again; the prayer of generosity that I used to hear when I was young. The same song but now with a whole new meaning because, today, I am humbled. I'm humbled that our act of service for God has filled my heart with love and that I get to experience God's will with my husband and my newfound community. :)

Submitted by Janine Duran

Isaac NhoJACComment