Love is a Verb

Love is a Verb

One of my favorite songs I grew up singing in church and around campfires is, We Are One In The Spirit (They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love). For me, it epitomizes the most profound elements of Christian values and mission. Take the second verse:

We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
We will work with each other, we will work side by side.
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and we’ll save each one’s pride.
And they’ll know we are Christians by our Love.

Singing along as I type these words, I get choked up. The ideas expressed here are deeply foundational to the work of the Church and its people — and especially to mission in the 21st Century.

Love, in the context of mission in the 21st Century, must transcend from abstract theory and intangible, passive “feelings” for each other into a new realm that is decidedly active. Love must be a verb and we must endeavor to live it out every second of every day.

A month ago, I made the trek to Ecuador and begin working alongside the FEDICE team as a Global Ministries Intern. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and love, the verb, I want to share with you some of the work that’s happening here in Latin America.

FEDICE (in Spanish, Fe: Faith, DICE: Says) was founded in 1994 by missionaries, Dr. Victor and Violet Vaca. Victor and Violet were a true power couple — working all over the world, engaging in mission that served God’s people by extending the opportunity to build a life outside the seemingly insurmountable confines of poverty. They founded FEDICE in Victor’s home country of Ecuador with a donation made from the money Violet had quietly put aside over the years.

The model is pretty simple — as many effective things are. FEDICE offers micro-credit at fair rates to families who would never qualify for traditional bank loans. They facilitate grassroots community organizing and the development of female leaders. They lead trainings on topics like animal husbandry and accounting, sustainable farming practices and human nutrition to spur economic and social development.

Twenty years strong, FEDICE continues to work side by side with indigenous and under-served communities in Ecuador. It is work that goes on without celebrity endorsements. Work that uplifts the people of this country. Empowers them to break free from cyclical economic hardship. Leaves them with tools to navigate the modern world with dignity and cultural legacies intact. Achieves justice without the struggles of violence.

It is a labor of love.

In just four short weeks with FEDICE, I am excited to share the “good news” that despite the existence of a few high profile embarrassments to the mission of “mission”, there are also organizations, partners, and PEOPLE out here acting out the tenants of God’s love and creating the kind of change the world really needs: the relentless destruction of poverty, equity for all God’s people, justice for the powerless and enduring compassion.

If we’re honest, in today’s world people know we are Christians by our rhetoric and it’s not serving us well. Wouldn’t it be nice if they really did know we are Christians by our love? This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to think about how you can activate your love in the world. Maybe it’s as simple as giving grace to a co-worker in a moment of high tension or volunteering weekly to help homeless veterans get back on their feet in your hometown. Maybe it’s supporting global mission abroad or fostering kids from broken homes. However you personally go about “verbacious” love, commit to the relentless pursuit of our quest. And from this day on, let them know us by our love.

Bethany Waggoner serves as a Global Mission Intern with the Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development Training and Education (FEDICE) in Ecuador.