by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM
She was called Joyce, a young, fifteen-year-old girl who’d come to live with the Mubiru family. When she came, she had nothing but her brokenness. Her family had put her out on the street. Poverty and abuse was all she’d known until my friends took her in. I met Joyce on my first trip to Uganda, when I too stayed with the Mubiru family.
Early in the morning, I woke to children quietly scurrying around, sweeping and mopping floors, washing clothes in tubs in the back yard, preparing food and various other family tasks. Typical of Ugandan families, everyone in the house had assigned chores to do. At the time, there was no running water in the house, so when I got up, water was heated on the charcoal burners outside for me to bathe. Of course, without plumbing, I also had to make my morning trek to the pit latrine behind the house. It was in these treks that I met Joyce. She didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Lugandan, but we had no trouble understanding each other.
When I came out of the pit latrine, Joyce was standing at a respectful distance holding a plastic tub, a bar of blue Ugandan soap, a cup of clean water and a towel. Her assignment was to make sure, whenever I emerged from the pit latrine, I could wash my hands, and she took her assignment to heart. Motioning for me to hold my hands over the tub, Joyce gently poured clean water over my hands from her cup. She then gave me the soap to wash and poured water again to rinse, finally handing me the towel to dry my hands. When I finished, Joyce smiled sweetly and disappeared.
The first time Joyce poured water over my hands, I was touched by her humility. Naturally, I never announced when I needed the latrine. But over the next three weeks, Joyce somehow always knew. She never failed to be waiting for me with fresh water and soap when I came out. In fact, it became a game between us. I tried to be especially discreet in my exit, but Joyce was always watching. Her love and gratitude to God in rescuing her from a life of pain was reflected in her serving.
Have you ever looked at your life, your experiences, family circumstances, financial status, talents, gifts—or lack of gifts and thought, “I have nothing to give”? Maybe you’ve watched others around you and thought this person or that person has it all together and it’s easy to see why God would choose to use them—but me? I have nothing to give. How can I serve God?
Service isn’t about qualifications or talent. It’s not about skill or whether you have money. In fact, if someone has a heart to serve, that’s what qualifies them. The smallest gesture offered in love is a sweet sacrifice in God’s eyes. Joyce probably thought she had nothing to give, but her humble hand washing was right up there in value with the widow’s two coins. Both the widow and Joyce gave all they had—from a heart of gratitude. (Read the story of the widow’s coins in Mark 12: 41-44)
If you’ve been thinking you have nothing to give, remember Joyce. There are many ways of giving to God to express your love and gratitude for what He has done for you. Does your neighbor need a friend? Be that friend. Pour water over their hands with a smile. Rake some leaves, go to the grocery store, listen to their stories, feed their cat… I think you get the idea.
Jesus is our example: “For even the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
Jesus Himself said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” (Mark 9:41 NIV)
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God…so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11 NASB
About the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.
Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.
Join the conversation: What are some acts of simple service that have touched your heart?