Earlier this year, I volunteered for an event in downtown Orlando called iDignity, which provides free services once a month to help people get their paperwork so they can apply for ID cards, birth certificates, and social security cards.
You probably already know that without proper identification, it’s impossible to do certain things in society, like get hired for a job, cash a check, rent an apartment, or vote. Identification plays such a critical role in helping people become participating members of society.
I was privileged to interact with a broad spectrum of humanity that day.
So many stories.
A number of the people I met had just gotten out of jail, some for the second or third time. They didn’t have places to live. Some had been previously arrested in other states, and their only form of physical identification was a mug shot on file at the out-of-state jail. They were hungry and trying to scrounge money for their next meal.
I remember, still today, some of the individuals I met. A tall, quiet young man with a record. An older black woman with dark eyes and a meek smile. A young pregnant girl so thin her legs looked like they could so easily snap like twigs.
It felt like such a privilege to look into their eyes and smile.
To accord them dignity.
To acknowledge their common humanity with me.
I felt like I was looking into the eyes of Christ each time someone approached me to put their name on the list for a birth certificate application.
In them was the image of God. Just like the image of God is in me.
And so each smile, each moment of eye contact, each small conversation was an instance of prayer. As I loved them, I was loving Jesus.
Have you ever experienced prayer as serving another person?