Offer Dignity: All Relationships Are Messy
by Mary Beth Coudal
While at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC, Stephanie Kimec befriended two men in her neighborhood who were homeless.
On her way to the car or Metro, "There'd be times when I would hear my name shouted and get a great big hug," Ms. Kimec remembered. "I would talk to them and hear about their struggles." They would make jokes in Spanish. Although they gave one another time and attention, Ms. Kimec said, "Giving them money would not be the best option."
The men attended a shower ministry at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church and found housing through the church.
Stephanie Kimec recalled the messiness of this friendship as she prepares to become a US-2, a young adult missionary who serves in the US for two years. She will work with Echo Park United Methodist Church in Los Angeles alongside the church's immigration community.
"I know that I will mess up and I will likely hurt people," Ms. Kimec said. "I value relationships--especially with people you are trying to walk alongside."
While taking part in the three-week training of young adults in August at the General Board of Global Ministries in New York City and Stony Point Retreat Center in Stony Point, New York, Stephanie took a moment to reflect on the reality that all human interactions require kindness and "dignity to all people."
Stephanie remembered to offer dignity last summer when she led a group traveling to Guatemala with the Highland Support Project, a project of The Advance.
The group planned to visit a Mayan woman's home, but the doorway was not the kind familiar to the travelers. So the group just continued walking into the home.
Stephanie stopped the travelers, "Wait, wait! Even though they don't have a proper door, I think we should ask, 'Can we come in?' We can show dignity."
Stephanie believed in showing kindness, respect, and dignity--whether entering a neighbor's home in Guatemala or chatting with a neighbor on the sidewalk in Washington, DC. This is why she wanted to become a young adult missionary--to engage in the messiness of mission, ministry, and friendship with neighbors.
Date posted: Aug 17, 2011