by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2012
I was invited to join our mission trip leader and a couple of other team members to survey the campsite and meet the camp director prior to the mission team’s arrival the next day. As the group walked through the grounds, a small hand suddenly grasped mine. I was not prepared for this cultural gesture of friendship. Trying not to react, even though it was awkward for me since I didn’t grow up in a “touchy-feely” family, we continued the tour. However, the intensifying warmth radiating from our clutch distracted my mind. After waiting what I thought was an acceptable amount of time for hand-holding, my grip loosened and the other palm fell away.
“And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.”” (Luke 8:45-46 NKJV)
Jesus’ power was the evidence of His divinity. However in my case, the energy being emitted was likely a natural phenomenon. Findings from various studies substantiate that human touch initiates a chemical reaction (oxytocin—a naturally occurring amino acid which is an anti-stress agent) in the body and an emotional response (a sense of acceptance, value, assurance or security) in the mind. Contact between individuals can lower blood pressure when anxious, contribute to faster healing by reducing inflammation around a wound, and even increase a newborn’s life expectancy during its first year.
Wow!! Reflecting back on the event, I wonder what miracle occurred when the little girl reached out to me. Did she experience trust and respect? Perhaps she felt worthy and loved? Maybe her pain of loneliness diminished?
Interestingly, Jesus was en route to a dying girl who also needed to be made well (Luke 8:41-42) when the encounter with the bleeding woman happened. He could have continued walking focused on the task ahead; nevertheless, Christ made a complete stop to address the woman’s spiritual condition. He did not consider the opportunity as an interruption in His schedule. Oh, how I wished that I had been more like Jesus in my situation!
As I recount the details of that long ago event on my mission trip, the Lord has chosen to again test me in this area. Recently, I was exiting church when an older lady reached for my hand and introduced herself to me. Without flinching, I smoothly continued to converse while we were locked palm-to-palm. This time, my fingers were not the first to let go. Thank you God for granting me a “do-over”! “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.” (Psalm 66:10 NKJV)
KESHER TIP (connection): Spur-Of-The-Moment
“Let us think of ways to motivate [spur] one another to acts of love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:24 NLT) During daily team devotions or evening debriefs, recognize your members for special moments encountered on your mission trip. Pass out a Lifesaver roll to someone who went above and beyond on a task. Award a package of Starbursts to a team member who had an “ah-ha” revelation. For the individual who had a blooper experience present a box of Whoppers. Bestow upon the person who is always late to the morning bus Slow Poke candy. Be creative and fun, but never embarrass or single out someone’s weakness. The goal is to foster unity among the team and encourage each other to continue showing Christ’s love in tangible ways. “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NLT)