Charity

7 Jun

In the midst of an extended volunteer adventure in Peruvian orphanages, I found myself in a small, Peruvian mountain town on the edge of an ancient trail leading to the place of worship for the Incan people. Accompanied by two of my American friends and our Peruvian guide and confidant, Flor, I filled my backpack at the local corner store with granola bars and Gatorade before setting out on a two day hike. We began to walk uphill toward our destination Salkantay–the summit that even the mountaineering world does not dare climb.

We trekked upward on dirt paths, determined to experience the grandeur Salkantay. Unfortunately, however, somewhere between the hot sun and thinning air, we lost our way.  One of my friends had also grown ill with the change of altitude, her exhaustion and delirium becoming obvious. In the middle of rolling hills we spotted a small hut and a man in the distance. He stood among his animals: malnourished pigs found shade up against his crumbling walls, skinny cows scattered among the field. In a short exchange, the man named Miguel agreed to lead us back to the path. Climbing upward, we were forced to stop every few hundred feet to catch our breath. He stood in patience, accepting the oranges we offered and taking our backpacks to ease the weight. Finally back on the trail, we tipped him with a few Peruvian soles and he quickly disappeared.

What is charity?

Miguel was a poor Peruvian farmer. To presume the motivation of an individual is impossible but based on our experience, we can safely predict that Miguel expected a small payment for his good deed. Following the short exchange of appreciate and money, we began to discuss if the motives of charity have any affect on the action itself.

With conversation we found a parallel between Miguel and Simon of Cyrene (Matthew 27:32). How can you begin to question whether Simon’s lack of volunteering to help carry the cross took any beauty away from the walk beside our Lord to Calvary? Like Simon of Cyrene, we do not always seek and choose charity, many times it chooses us. The question is not, who will I select to serve, but how will I respond to the needs of others as they stand before me. Simon did not volunteer to carry the cross but was chosen. The choice he had was to accept or decline the opportunity to serve our Lord. Whether payment is involved, you are chosen by chance or you personally seek the opportunity, charity is not an experience to be measured by motive but it is an experience to walk as brothers and sisters on the rugged road to grandeur.

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