Some of life’s greatest experiences come at the most unexpected times. One such time for me took place within the last two weeks. Before conducting training with one of the Corps teams on the Texas border, I was offered a tour- not of buildings, but of on-site ministries taking place with immigrants– a marginalized group of people. The journey for these immigrants is fraught with danger, lack of supplies, doubts as to whether or not a better future will exist, and the worry of sponsorship. One can only imagine the extreme bondage of daily life that would prompt such precarious attempts in the first place.
What I saw was the Church in action. A number of ministries and agencies from the city come together collaboratively to offer whatever resources each has available. Those who are foreigners are given the necessities to meet basic human needs. Beyond that, they are offered hope.
Jesus Soup is both a reality and metaphor as an aid in assisting these people who live in the borderland between bondage and freedom. Many enter the border malnourished and chronically hungry. Jesus Soup is the nourishment offered–the result of many attempts at trying to find just the right food to feed the hungry in helpful ways. One of the medical doctors suggested a broth type soup filled with nutrient-rich ingredients. This soup would quell the hunger and sustain the depleted body without causing undue stress on the digestive system. It is both delicious and healthy. It is comfort food.
I thought about the many ways people exist in borderlands attempting to move from bondage to freedom. I recalled the families and individuals with whom I’ve been privileged to walk and offer “Jesus Soup.” You have those you have assisted as well. The words of Isaiah came immediately to my mind: “The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me. The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to repair broken hearts, and to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison, “Be free from your imprisonment!” He has sent me to announce the year of jubilee, the season of the Eternal’s favor.” (Isaiah 61: 1, 2 The Voice).
Those we are called to lead are often bogged down in a “borderland” — an in-between space beyond the “old life” but short of the abundant existence promised by Jesus. Mark Buchanan, pastor and author, suggests that “borderland living” is where doubt, disappointment, guilt, and wonder-less-ness keep people in a quagmire of mediocrity. Many are spiritually malnourished needing the nutrient-rich Word of God spoken and lived before them. Others are disoriented by the new terrain in which they find themselves as a result of unwanted and/or unanticipated life circumstances. They need fellow sojourners who know the area.
Leading like Jesus means we enter these places for the sakes of those we are privileged to lead. If anyone understands what it means to enter new borders on behalf of others, it is Jesus—God Incarnate. It doesn’t ultimately matter what circumstances throw people into borderlands. Those places may be geographical. Perhaps they are mostly internal places. We all have or will live there and often multiple times. What does matter is that we are willing to cross divides to become agents of healing and hope as others find themselves in borderlands.
Truth be told: we are all strangers and aliens in need of assistance as we trek onward to the place prepared for us in Jesus.