1 John 4:18 says,” There is no Fear in Love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” One of the major spiritual leaders in my life always said “Love God, Love People,” and I think I did, but I don’t think I really ever fully understood it until this summer. God revealed this verse to me on one of the real low days when my voice could be heard shouting out in desperation all over campus. I just could not grasp my thoughts around why the kids were being so bad, why they didn’t respect me, and why after all this time it felt like nothing made a difference. Then, I began thinking about all of the fear that goes on in each one of these children’s lives daily. They hear gunshots, they see death, they have no example of healthy relationships in the home, and they are constantly put down and put others down with words and actions. I don’t think I would have great behavior either. I would not want to respect anybody either. And it would be really hard for me to understand how I could actually survive living like the Bible tells me to.
Then, I began to wonder why God put me in the village. And it is simple: because I love God, and God loves me. I think this is the kind of love that the Bible calls perfect, and God not only wants us to personally experience it through his word and his comfort, but He wants us to use it to cast out the fear in the lives of those who think that love is a lie.
Every time I get in front of a group of people and make a complete joke of myself whipping and rapping, I do it out of the hope that the kids will feel love. When it rains and I literally roll around in a mud puddle during a rainstorm with thirty 6 year olds, I do it because I want them to feel love. When I carry a child flailing over my shoulder filled with anger to the next station instead of just giving up on them, I do it because I want them to feel love. I can experience all of these moments fear-free because I know I have the Love of the Perfect One, and I can only hope that through my oh-so-small acts of love that the children will see a difference in what their world shows them love is and what God shows them love is.
At the end of the day, that’s why I come to the village. It is definitely not because I share their swag, because I think my Bible studies are going to turn their worlds upside down, because I love to sweat, or because I think I am going to make some huge intervention of peace. I go to the village because I know God is in the village, I feel him every day, and I think that the idea of missing that far outweighs the human weariness that I feel at about 2:30 every day. I am forever grateful to Light of the Village for giving me the daily opportunity to practice and experience God’s perfect kind of love.