Lose the Labels

After running as fast, as hard, and as far as possible, you finally get enough time to bend over, grab your knees, and gulp in the oxygen you need to be restored and renewed. But only to prepare for the next run immediately ahead of you. After four weeks of the war, heartbreaking stories lived out before you, joining in those stories of "where will we go now" questions. My wife, Michelle, likens it to living inside a tornado. Plans made this morning change by day's end. Where will it stop? When will it stop?

The finish line is nowhere in sight, but we have reached a temporary place of peace and calm before the next leg of the journey begins. I am only now finding a place in my soul, a tiny glimmer of light, where I can start to process all that has happened. What is emerging?

In the lives of hundreds of people, we have helped. We have welcomed them into our hearts, provided them with a warm, comfortable bed. A shower to wash away the grime, the lice, the immediate memory, if only temporarily, of the horror they have left behind. We have fed each of our guests, listened, prayed, and served them. What is missing?

What church do you attend? What doctrines do you believe? What education do you have? How much money do you have? How do you vote? What is missing are the attitudes that we cling to with such shallowness of heart, mind, and soul. The cliques, categories, divisions, sects, the labels we apply only lead to the horror of war, devastation, and hatred.

Labels that keep us separated, suspicious, cold-hearted, closed to the needs of those right before us. It is a declared war, not by physical violence thrust upon "those" people. It is a declared war of dead religion, divisive politics, consumer church, sectarianism, racism, and all from a soul shaped by false promises and pursuits that rob us of the very life we seek deep within. To live in love, compassion, grace, and freedom of heart, resulting in a depth of heart, mind, and soul that seems elusive.

How sad that only in times of desperation, violence, loss of life, and all we hold dear, does the clarity of humanity emerge. All the things that divide us, label and categorize us, are now gone. All we have left is one another. When all we have is left is each other, the true beauty of humanity emerges. The invitation to love, accept, and serve one another, leaves all the ugliness behind in the ashes of war.

Let us rebuild our homes, schools, hospitals, families, and lives. But let us all pray we will leave the ugliness behind. Let us rebuild upon a rock-solid foundation to love others as we love ourselves.

Pray for our precious friends who have left behind their lives. Pray they, too, will find the time, the space, and the person to help them process the life we are living.

Michael Pratt is the co-founder of New Horizons. In 1995 Michael and his wife, Michelle, moved to Kyiv with their five children. Ukraine has become their home.

Michael Pratt is the co-founder of New Horizons


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