In the nonprofit world, it can be so easy to feel like you are saving people. In fact, a lot of marketing for nonprofit organizations capitalizes on this idea in order to draw in donors and gain influence. However, when you really look at the scripture, God doesn't ask us to save people, in fact he makes it clear that He is the savior. He calls us instead to draw people closer to Him.
In Matthew chapter 10, Jesus sends his apostles out to "Cure the sick, raise the dead...drive out devils" but he gives them some rather strange instructions: "Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff." Jesus doesn't send His disciples out as well-provisioned saviors who can swoop in, rescue people and leave. He humbles them; they have all of this power and authority but not even a spare tunic to change into.
In January of 2018 I started working for an organization called In My Shoes. We are a maternity home in the Dallas area serving women who are pregnant and homeless. It is not a cushy job. The staff, also known as the Residential Core Team, lives in the house six days a week and receives a stipend that covers basic necessities but not much else. Since I took this job I have consistently been congratulated and told how "noble" I am for doing this work. That drives me crazy. I'm not here to save anyone.
The example that the apostles set is truly present here. We live in community with those we serve: we eat the same food, live in the same house, and when the AC goes out or the bathroom floods we all endure it together. The women are as much a resource to each other as we are to them. We are not saving these women. They are saving themselves, and in the process they are providing a better life for their children.
The purpose of In My Shoes is to restore and prepare women to be who God intended them to be. This may seem vague, but it is in fact quite specific. God has a clear picture of who He is calling each of these women to be, but that picture is different for each person. We cannot fulfill this purpose by dictating to them a one size fits all plan. Instead, we sit with each mom personally and give them the space and resources to discover for themselves who God is calling them to be. This can be really hard; we tend to look at other people's lives and form opinions about what they should do or how they should prioritize their goals, but when we do that we step into that "savior" role that is only meant to be filled by Christ.
We are not the experts here; each woman is an expert on herself. Sometimes we think that in order to help people we must have all the answers and all the resources, but this not the case. We don't always know what is best for the woman or, more importantly, what God intends for this woman.
Christ sent out his apostles without a cent to their names and by doing so he forced them to be dependent on Him. In the same way we are dependent on God to illuminate for each woman the path he is calling her to walk. In this job the feeling that, "I am not prepared" is a constant reality we each live with in some way, but this lack of preparation is completely intentional. As the saying goes, "God doesn't call the prepared he prepares the called." And when we are able to restore and prepare people for who God intended them to be, they are able to achieve more on their own than anyone could have done for them. What I have found is that through this process He, in turn, restores and prepares us in the same way.