How to Serve God by Serving Others – Irene Hwang
Irene spent six months helping residents of a leper colony in China. She did very simple things most of the time, sweeping the floor, saying hello, and giving massages. She found it very easy to the hands and feet of God while there in the leper colony because quite literally the people there were missing hands and feet. After her time there, fast-forward to Irene now in Dental school at Columbia in New York City. She still felt this desire to serve others, but wasn’t sure how. She looked around and everything had everything anyone could possibly want. But as time went on she realized that though at first her time and China and being in New York City seemed very different that there were similarities. Because people were there, and people all feel the need to be listened to, emotionally supported, and God has given Irene a heart for that.
I grew up in Seattle with my family. We went to church every single weekend. So I always grew up with Adventist ideals of serving the community and being a good person. But it really wasn’t until my junior year at Andrews when I left for an entire semester to serve in the leper colonies in China when I fully came to understand the meaning of stewardship. And during that time, God really changed my perspective. I really saw the value in the opportunity of service.
So, while I was there, I guess we were doing pretty simple things. Sometimes it just meant sweeping some floors, helping them. Because the majority of them are handicapped, missing limbs, missing feet. So, we’d go around every single day saying hi to them, giving them massages, spending time with them, cooking.
So, I fast forward past my six months, it was a beautiful six months, but I find myself here in dental school, and I’m in the middle of New York, Manhattan at Columbia. And here I have this new desire to serve, and I realize that God really wants us to be a part of His mission, to be His hands and His feet.
It was easy in China because I could literally be their hands and their feet. But, here in Manhattan, everything has everything they could possibly want. And I began looking around at people, but I also looked at myself. What talents had God given me? What are the skills that He’s blessed me with? And I found ways to be helpful, ways that I could make a positive impact in people’s lives.
So, I began playing music for the patients in the hospital. I would listen to people’s stories, especially my classmates who were struggling. And it could be even as silly as sharing my portable battery to someone on the subway.
But, in all of these areas, I could see that people are always in need, and through all these small things, I am able to not only help them out in their life, but also be able to share a little bit of what God has given me through them. And I found that it’s made a huge impact on some people’s lives.
For example, my unbelieving friend, after listening to her struggling and her difficulties, I asked her if I could pray for her at my Sabbath school. And she started crying because no one had ever asked if they could pray for her. She was so touched by that.
And I was immediately transported back to China. The smile, the hug, a prayer, and then I started thinking maybe there is a lot of similarities between a leper colony and Manhattan, even though they seem worlds apart. And that’s the fact that people live in these places, people who are struggling, people who just need emotional support. And I can do that. God has given me those talents. God has given me a heart to do that. He’s changed me so that everything that he’s given me, I can give back to someone else.
I am a steward because I find it a privilege to join God in his work.