Written by Chris Jones
In the past eight months my dad died, my step-mom asked my sisters, myself and my dad’s brothers to never contact her again, and then I sat with my mom the last week of her life as she slowly died from her kidneys shutting down. It’s been heartbreaking, and I’ve swung from weeks of rage to standing in the rain while weeping on a cold January night. After my mom passed on May 26th an old mentor of mine sent me a message stating, “Now that your parents have died, you’re truly an orphan in this world.” I think he was trying to encourage me to lean on God as my Father, so I’m not upset. But his words weren’t accurate.
This is my third trip to El Salvador. My first trip I came because my best friend is the regional team manager. The second time I came because I made some friends there on the previous trip. This time around on our fourth night in country I was talking with my friends Vanessa and Chuck about the passage from Matthew 12: 46-50 where Jesus says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” And low and behold later that night my best friend Matt Parker preached to us Americans and Salvadorans from the same passage.
As long as I’ve been a Christian I have thought about ‘the family of God.’ For me the family of God has always been a loose network of people around the world who identify as Christians. But that’s not a family. A family is made up of people who are committed to each other day in and day out. They are committed to the wellbeing of each other always. On this trip to El Salvador that clicked for me. Certainly my friends in Nashville, but also Lorena, Antonio, their son Liam, and our interns Doris, Miguel, Amilcar, and Orlando in El Salvador are also my family. Why? Because my heart’s desire is to do the will of God above all else, and I know that is true of their hearts. And I don’t mean ‘family’ in a symbolic sentiment. These people are my family. I am accountable for their lives and they are accountable for mine. If any of them have need, I am responsible for praying for them and helping find solutions. We all thrive or suffer together. None of us are orphans. We are a family and have the ability to care for one another with such an abundance that others will enjoy our excess.
I lost my biological parents, whom I loved and am grateful for, but I have a family that surpasses my biological DNA and my citizenship. We are one family, one body serving God’s mission.