Some of you remember sending Elizabeth Messamer off to Switzerland last summer to spend a year serving at the European Nazarene College. She's back home now, spending some time with her family in God's country (Eastern Iowa). I'm proud of how TFC supported Elizabeth through prayer and finances and you've been asking me how she's doing. Elizabeth sent a summary of her year in Europe.
After experiencing such a desire to serve during my semester of studying at the European Nazarene Bible College I was excited to return this past year as a Mission Corps volunteer. For the past year I was an assistant to the Home Economics Manager which included preparing the noon meals and coffee breaks, guest housing preparations, cleaning, event coordinating, office duties, and much more.
The duties were not appealing to most, but this is how I desired to serve ever since I was a student the year before. The work was constant and demanding, though, so I often lacked time and/or energy to spend with the people I was serving. This was very hard for me since the main thing that drew me back to EuNC was the community. As a foodservice provider I was always behind the scenes during the main events, chapels, and meals that were significant community building times. I often felt invisible and unappreciated. Such feelings caused me to continuously question my motives and what servanthood really is. My service was not for recognition, so why was it so difficult for me in this case? As I wrestled with this a friend offered me the following quote:
When God chose to connect with humans, he did so as a servant. It was a most unlikely way to connect, for servants are usually invisible. They wear white uniforms, perform lowly tasks, remain largely silent and, if effective, seem not to be there. People look past them and rarely acknowledge them until needed for a chore. Their rights are few, their power negligible and their status as the dust. Why would Jesus choose to come as a servant? All of the image of a servant seem so counter-human. I can think of only one reason Jesus came as a servant: it is the very nature of God to serve. (Cross Cultural Servanthood by Duane Elmer)
When I arrived at the college, I felt prepared to serve because it is what my passion was, but I had no idea that recognizing and questioning feelings that made me feel like I was failing as a servant would allow me to understand servanthood more deeply. Not only did God teach me through these things, but He taught others. When I left EuNC I received many notes similar to the following from a student:
Dear Friend, Elizabeth,
Thank you so much for spending your year at EuNC. It meant so much more than "giving and taking away." Your being here was a blessing to me, which cannot be taken away. You stretched my mind towards being a servant - with just being one, but also through talking about it. You said something like, "I feel only right when I can do something for people." You and I are very different, but this showed me where I am at and where I want to be. Your influence can never be taken from me. Elizabeth, thank you for just being Elizabeth; for being authentic, for all your love through words and deeds. Thank you for responding to the "pull back" to Busingen, you changed lives! Thank you for your friendship to me.
The letter is not to boast of anything I did, because I could not have done anything by my own strength, but Christ is glorified in this because His power was at work.