On a bus from the province of Siem Reap to the Capitol, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, my leader asked me, “Why not Hosea?” I had heard the name lingering around town as a great place to be. When it came to the conversation of loving street impacted youth, I had heard Hosea was the community doing it best. When I got back from the Kingdom of Wonder, I began the process of reaching out to Hosea to see if they would have me. Almost six months later, I am completing my second semester as an intern at Hosea. Hosea has positively impacted my life, and this is largely due to the relationships I have made. I believe the Kingdom is relationships, so when relationships are thriving, so is the Kingdom.
The reason I believe the Kingdom is amidst the Hosea family is because of relationships. In my first forming weeks at Hosea I kept hearing about the importance of building “relational equity.” Though the term by itself is pretty self-explanatory, relational equity means that you can’t just walk into someone’s life and tell them what’s up. You cannot tell another person their story and encourage changes in their life and behavior if you have not built relationship with them. Instead, you have to enter into a person’s life and actively listen. You have to be with them when they are navigating through the crap, the struggle, and the pain. You have to enter their story with empathy, humbleness, and grace. You have to love them well, as you would a brother and a sister. It is only then that a relationship begins to grow, and you start to build relational equity. Relational equity is essential in all of life and every relationship, but it is especially crucial with our precious youth at Hosea.
Relational equity starts with one person at a time. It took a long time to gain relational equity with my Sweet Annie. Thankfully, I had enough equity in the bank to ask her to be my wife in December, and by the grace of God, I received the “yes” I’ve always dreamed of. I don’t plan to build that type of relational equity with any other human on this earth ever again, but I do know there are going to be other people in my path that I will take the time to care for. No person in history knew the importance of taking care of the person/people in front of him like Jesus did. Though we follow Jesus as well as we can, we ultimately will never reach his level of wonderfulness. Yet, he gives us tangible goals in simplistic terms. One way in which Jesus clarified loving our neighbor was through parable, specifically the parable of the Good Samaritan. There are many different ways one can interpret this passage in Luke, but the bottom line is Jesus gave the way to loving our neighbor and stopping injustice. Simply put, the Good Samaritan took care of the person in front of him. You may be thinking, “Duh Calvin,” but the implications of this are profound. Previous to the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus clarified the greatest commandment is, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.” When we think of neighbor we think of the people that live next to us, go to school with us, are in our community groups, and frankly, those within our inclusive church doors. Yet, Jesus wants us to grow our circles of inclusion broader and broader the more we know and love Him. Therefore, the technical implications of loving your neighbor is 7.4 billion and counting. Yes, every person. Jesus includes all. I admit this seems overwhelming and a bit much for Jesus to ask of us. But remember, he gave us the formula in the parable. Jesus is asking each one of us to take care of the people in front of us, today. If each one of us chose to do this, I believe with Jesus issues of injustice, discrimination, etc. would come to a halt.
Now, here is the disclaimer, I have not achieved this. The people who know me would admit I don’t have to give that disclaimer! I’m surely the worst of sinners, a boy who has received tremendous grace. I take seriously the idea that I must take the log out of my own eye before I discuss the dust in my brother or sister’s eye. But I can tell you this, I am all about love. I am all about doing my best to take care of the people in front of me today. Hosea has given me the space to do this with a population I am particularly fond of. I can also say with certainty and authority that my fellow interns, the staff, and the volunteers at Hosea are striving for this kind of radical love. We are taking care of one person at a time, and we take joy in the process of building relational equity. The Kingdom is thriving as relationships continue to grow in our basement.
Cheers to loving better.
~Calvin, HYS Intern