“We don’t choose where or when to be born. We don’t choose where or when to die. But we can choose either to help others or turn away. We can choose to do nothing or be a hero. If you want to be a hero, do what God wants you to do. He will let you know what that is, as long as you are open to finding out.” ~ Mama Maggie
Last night I met a hero. A real life hero! Someone who does real hero stuff – like saving lives and giving her own life to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. Things that most people wouldn’t consider doing even once in their lives, she does them on a day to day basis.
That hero’s name is Mama Maggie – the modern day “Mother Teresa of Egypt” as she is often referred to. And I got to meet her last night!
I met her at a launch event for a book that was just released which tells her story. The book - which I highly highly recommend - is called MAMA MAGGIE: The Untold Story of One Woman's Mission to Love the Forgotten Children of Egypt's Garbage Slums.
It isn’t just a book about her life story; it’s a book about the story of the work of the Holy Spirit in her and through her. I promise you, you can’t read this book without being inspired at what can happen “when one person dares to say YES to God.”
I don’t want to talk too much about the book; I’d rather you read it for yourself. But what I will talk about briefly is my experience in meeting Mama Maggie last night. I got a chance to speak with her for about 15 minutes or so after the event was over.
Three things stood out to me:
1) HER HUMILITY
If you read her story, you’ll know that she is a hero. She does something that very few can do. She came from a very wealthy family and had a highly distinguished career and future ahead of her; yet she gave all that up to serve in some of the poorest regions in Egypt, literally and figuratively washing the feet of those who are called “garbage people.”
But if you meet her face to face, you’ll think you were talking to your next door neighbor. She’s extremely down to earth and easy to speak with (once she’s removed the public setting). She exudes a sense of humility which isn’t common for someone who has done so much. In speaking about the sacrifice she made to serve the poor, the author writes “she sees nothing particularly remarkable in her decision.”
2) HER LOVE
She sees those whom she serves as her children. She calls them her children and you can see that she delights in them as a mother delights in her son or daughter. Actually, to be honest, I’ll bet if you asked her, she wouldn’t even say that she’s “serving” anyone; no mother would say that about her children. She’d say she loves them and is just doing what comes natural as a result of that love.
To tell you the truth, I felt that love as well. I spent 15 minutes chatting with her and afterwards I felt as if she truly loved me and cared about me and was concerned about me and my wife and my kids. And I could tell her that love was sincere and genuine.
Love like that only comes from one place…
3) HER DESIRE TO KNOW CHRIST MORE
I told you that we spoke for about 15 minutes after the event was over. What do you think we spoke about? Church politics? Nope. World affairs? No chance. Maybe ministry and service? Nope, not even close.
We talked about the Holy Spirit. We talked about how we can be filled by Him. We talked about how to bear the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. And I’m not the one who brought it up. She did. She’s the one who asked me “how do we be filled by the Spirit?”
(I didn’t have the guts to say much at the start of the conversation other than “thank you, thank you, pray for me, thank you”but I’m thankful she didn’t follow my socially awkward lead.)
Mama Maggie isn’t someone who is obsessed by service or ministry; she is someone who serves and ministers out of her great desire to know Christ and be filled by His Spirit. She doesn’t feel the need to be “productive” and doing something at all times (a disease which afflicts many churchgoers and workers); she only desires to be know God more deeply and grow in her intimacy with Him.
I don’t know about you, but I personally find that extremely refreshing and absolutely inspirational!
I was asked to give a short speech last night and below is the gist of what I said:
We honor Mama Maggie not because she is great, but because the One whom she serves is great. Her life is an example of what Christ meant when He said “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24)
Each of us is like a seed. As a seed, we have little value in and of ourselves. But when that seed is willing to die – when it allows the Sower to bury it in the ground according to His plan – that seed will have tremendous value. It will become the bearer of much fruit and end up with a life much greater than it previously thought possible.
Like Mama Maggie, we all have a chance to bear fruit. We all have the chance to live lives greater than we previously thought possible. It’s not about WHO WE ARE that determines our greatness; it’s about WHOSE WE ARE.
And we are His.
“Don't say "it is impossible for me to influence others.” If you have Christ within, it is impossible for you NOT to influence." (John Chrysostom, 349-407 AD)