Ash Wednesday: What does the Lord Require?

“Who’s a bass?” the group leader asked us.  A couple of guys raised their hands, myself included.  He proceeded to teach us the bass line of a song we were about to sing as we started our day.  “What does the LORD require of you?  What does the LORD require of you?” he sung, and then continued to teach the rest of the song.  By the time the song was put together, we had a musical excerpt from Micah 6:8 – “What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”  I had no idea how much this passage would be a part of my life for the next two weeks.

I was on a mission trip when I learned that song, but not your ordinary mission trip.  In 2008, I went to Cuba as a part of the Northeastern Jurisdictional Council on Youth Ministries’ (NEJCYM) Mission of Peace (MOP).  When one goes on a MOP, they shouldn’t expect to build houses, but rather build bridges of Shalom and break down the walls of stereotypes.  What better country than Cuba?

For the two weeks we were in Cuba, we did a lot to try and understand the Cuban people.  We met with members of the Cuban Parliament and the Cuban Communist Youth program.  We visited a maternity clinic, a rehabilitation center, and orphanage.  We attended all kinds of worship services (believe it or not, the dominant denomination in Cuba is the Baptist Church).  But probably the most inspiring part of our short stay in Cuba was the time we worked on the farm for Cuba Connection Ministries (CCM).

The sole purpose of the CCM farm is to grow different fruits and vegetables to anonymously give to people who can’t get them.  They grow everything from garlic to guava fruit; onions to plantains.  The farm is staffed by a couple of men and the youngest of them is 63.  They were thrilled to have 26 youth come and help them.  We worked on this farm for 2 days.  On the first day, we picked the weeds from the garlic crops, and on the second day we carried burlap sacks full of fertilizer and spread the fertilizer on the part of the field that was waiting for new crops.  But the incredible part of our days at the farm was the sheer diversity of people working.  Youth were working with the old.  Democrats were working with Republicans.  Free market capitalists were working with Communists.  Atheists were working with Christians.  Americans were working with Cubans.

“What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  This simple, yet profound question is what drives groups like MOP.  By reaching out to other groups of people with the sole purpose to teach us to empathize with them, MOP teaches our youth to seek justice in all corners of the world, love kindness in everything that they come across, and to walk humbly with our God wherever we go.  Amen.

-Ian Urriola

AU Methodist-Protestant Community


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