Love Until It Hurts

One of our mottos at Christ in the City is Mother Teresa’s “love until it hurts.” I’m often challenged by friends on the street to strive for a more radical love. One of the most powerful examples of love I have encountered was with a woman at Lunch in the Park named Monica. Monica and her toddler, Luke, were staying in a cheap motel infested with bed bugs. At night, she would hold Luke in her arms to keep the bed bugs from biting him. Monica sacrificed her own comfort for her son, every night. She understood the meaning of self-giving love.

On a Friday Night Street Walk, we met a man named Mack who identified himself as a philosopher. He spoke in elaborate, intellectual terms about his spiritual and philosophical journey. Throughout the conversation, I was distracted by the smell of alcohol on his breath and the sad look on his face.

I waited until the group had said goodbye before I saying to him, “hey, I’m worried about you. Why do you drink?”

He sighed, “I haven’t talked about this in a long time…you’re right to be worried. Honestly, I haven’t been sober since the day my wife died.”

After talking about his wife and ways to address his alcoholism, we promised to pray for each other. I left the conversation wondering if I have ever loved someone as much as Mack loved his wife.

1 John 4:18 states: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” I often fall short of this standard. I am tempted to stop loving people when it becomes uncomfortable or difficult. I am so afraid of rejection that I put limits on how much love I give. I have learned through my time as a Christ in the City missionary that these limits I place on my love are artificial. My own human love will always fall short, but I can strive to love with the infinite love of Christ. When I begin to fear, I can always turn to the Cross- the ultimate example of “loving until it hurts.”

screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-10-13-13-amCatriona Kerwin is a second-year missionary from Lakewood, CO. Her hobbies include: making popcorn, making people smile, and dancing until she gets whiplash.

All Things to All People

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Screen shot 2016-01-14 at 10.56.23 AMBy Mary Sullivan

When I signed up to be a Christ in the City missionary, I didn’t quite understand the scope of what I was signing up for. I knew I would be encountering the poor and building friendships with them, but I didn’t know just how deeply I would be diving into the lives of our friends on the street.

Recently I have been reflecting a lot on the words of St. Paul, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Cor 9:22-23)

In the past month, I have had to be many things. In my community I have been a chef, cooking meals for 20+ people. I have been a student, studying and learning about my faith so that I can better live it out. I have been a host for a friend visiting from home, sharing my life and mission here with her. I have been a sister to the women in my community, walking with them through the challenges and joys of our hectic life.

With my friends on the street, I have been a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold for a dear friend who always has lots of hugs to spare during a memorial service for her husband. He struggled with alcoholism and passed away while sleeping outside on Christmas night.

I have been a taxi driver for a friend with schizophrenia, driving him all over the city of Denver to help him get some things taken care of so that he could get to his surgery on time. All the while he was freaking out in the back seat because he was stressed out and he didn’t trust that we were actually going to be able to help him.

I have been a mother/sister/friend to a woman that I hardly know, accompanying her through the labor and delivery of her sweet baby girl. She didn’t really have any other family to be there, so a few of us missionaries decided to be there to support her and love her through it.

Availability is one of the core virtues of a CIC missionary. In the past few weeks, I have learned exactly what it means to live it out both in community and on the streets. Much like St. Paul, I had to be ready and willing to be all these things to all of these people for the sake of the Gospel.

It is my hope that the Lord will use these things for the salvation of others.

Mary Sullivan is a recent graduate of Wright State University with a degree in chemistry. She loves deep conversations, good movies, and Cincinnati chili.