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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Love Never Fails

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude…It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

While leading a church mission trip to Brazil, I was in charge of passing out lunch tickets to the members of our group for a lunch at a Methodist camp. As I counted the tickets, I noticed there was one extra, in addition to our group of Brazilian and American Methodists. Our host, a retired missionary named Marion Way, explained that the ticket was for a young woman he and his wife were trying to help. She had come to the camp with friends that day, and Marion was taking care of her lunch.  

As Marion explained this woman’s lifetime of failed efforts to get herself on track, she sounded to me like a lost cause. She had three children, none of whom she was currently caring for. She’d abandoned one child at birth. Raised in an orphanage, this woman had been on and off drugs, and in and out of halfway houses almost her entire life. Marion sadly informed me that the woman had recently decided to leave a group home and go back out on the street.

In typical American fashion, I started to think, “why help those who won’t even help themselves?” And then I remembered the words of my pastor, Dr. James Howell, from a sermon a few weeks earlier. His words hit me so hard, I pulled out a pen to jot them down in the middle of the sermon: “God doesn't abandon us for our failure to achieve. Therefore, we shouldn't abandon others for their failure to achieve.”

Our devotional that evening was from 1 Corinthians 13, a passage I’d heard so many times that I’d stopped really hearing it. Through Marion’s living witness, that night I heard in a new way the definition of love as patient and kind.

I had to go all the way to Brazil to see the words I’d heard in North Carolina put into action.

Marion and his wife, Anita
Marion as a young man beginning a career of faithful service
My very favorite photo of Marion, courtesy of Allen Smith in 2007

Looking back on Myers Park UMC Brazil Mission Trip Memories...thanks to Marion. (Click here for my 2010 post about my church's work in Rio and more about "Saint Marion.") 


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