On the Joshua team’s last day, the Orlando team joined the South Africans to dig a foundation and move stones for a footer; heavy grunt work. Although the Orlando team was predominately male, the Joshua team was pretty evenly split. Remarkably, the women had no problem keeping up. They set a wonderful example of diligence and spirit. At the end of the day, everyone was dirty and smelly. The Orlando team was ever so slightly cranky as the teenagers’ impatience with the lack of power equipment and creature comforts had grown through the long hours of hard labor.
As was customary, the teams were to gather for evening devotions. This would be their last time together. The Orlando team arrived first and took seats in a circle. Moments later, the Joshua team came in with towels…and buckets. My eyes immediately filled with tears. I knew what was about to happen. Looking around, many on the team had tears. Those who didn’t, grew somber.
Our feet were washed. Our smelly, dirty, nasty feet were washed by that Joshua team. They had waited until the end of the day, not the beginning, when our feet would have been at least a little cleaner; somehow more acceptable. Even as I write this, tears well up in my eyes. The Joshua team’s loving act of humility—ten years old now—still has the power to move me deeply.
A foot-washing ceremony may not carry the same weight in our culture, but it is clear that the Orlando team understood the act of humility coming from the Joshua team. The Orlando team was cranky and showing impatience. The Joshua team served them anyway. They cleaned their feet with water, but don’t think the Orlando team didn’t come away clean in other ways due to the demonstrated act of humility. In other words, what are the chances the Orlando team remained cranky and impatient after that?
Our daily, intentional humble attitude and service in the midst of bad attitudes and impatience can accomplish a lot more than the most powerful foot-washing ceremony. Go ahead, clean their feet if their culture calls for it, but be more ready to wash them with buckets of humility.