I fell asleep on the couch last night. I’m not exactly sure what time I went down but I awoke to my wife telling my daughter it was time for bed. It was actually my daughter's frustrated cry that woke me as she was asking me if it was time for us to watch Arrow yet. She loves Arrow and more particularly the Black Canary. She has identified so much with the strong female superhero that she chose to be the Black Canary for Halloween. Needless to say, my daughter was pretty upset when she discovered there would be no Arrow last night. Safari is not the only one who likes superheroes. In fact, I’m pretty certain that most of us at one time or another have had a favorite superhero. As a child mine was He-man. By the power of Grayskull prince Adam would turn into He-man and with superhuman power defeat Skeletor and all the evil in the kingdom. Recently, I attempted to watch the series with my son a year or so ago but, unfortunately, he was not interested.
The beauty of these superheroes is that they are mostly good while giving of themselves to defeat evil in the world. Throughout my time in Greece I continued meeting hero after hero. These heroes were not superhuman but rather radically human. As I mentioned in my last post, “I have always admired the person who puts their life on the line for another. But when you meet people who put their entire life on hold for others, you’re left speechless.” Lisa, Dimitri, Riki, Jodi, Autumn, and Mohammad are each wonderful examples of this sacrifice. Each of them give of themselves each and everyday to serve and love on the refugees in Greece. Each of them have put opportunity, comfort, and futures on hold.
Lisa is a PhD student who originally went to Greece to do research with refugees. After spending a bit of time in Greece, she put her research on hold to simply serve refugees. In all sincerity, there is no “simply” in Greece. She has made herself present and available at one of the squats, helping with both menial and significant tasks. One day she was looking for transportation to get some furniture to the squat, another day she was looking for baby formula (which is always in high demand), another she was teaching English, another she was attempting to prep a large room in the basement for the kids during the winter months, and another she was holding a young girl while watching ballet on the computer. And in the midst of all this, she was attempting to solve the buildings growing sewage issues. Did I mention she was only 25 years old (give or take a few years). Lisa has not had a day off in months and has no idea how long she plans to stay. She is a giant and I want to be her best friend.
The day I visited the warehouse, which is the old olympic basketball arena, I spent most of it with Dimitri (shown in picture above). When people send supplies to Greece, they go to the warehouse where volunteers sort through it all. Dimitri’s job is to run supplies from the warehouse to the various camps and squats. While we were running supplies I got to know a little more about Dimitri. He owned a restaurant for many years. I could tell he was proud of his restaurant as he showed me pictures. The spark in his eyes and his smile that went from ear to ear told me just how much he enjoyed his restaurant and his employees. They had live music most evenings and his employees seemed like they were family to him. The night before meeting him his band went to one of the camps and held a celebration/dance for the refuges. He smiled another big grin thinking about the joy it put on the faces on all the people.
When I asked him where his restaurant was so I could visit and eat before leaving, he explained that when the refugees started coming he closed it so he and others could help. I was dumbfounded. This dude had just spent a good deal of time telling me about his restaurant while flipping through pics he kept with him. All of this created that big smile I keep telling you about. And he just shut it down. Can you imagine closing your family business in order to help the refugees? Later in the day, as we passed by a beach, I asked if he ever went to the beach. He once again got a big smile on his face (recurring theme here as he was full of joy) and said, “Oh yes! At least 100 times a year.” That was until the refugees starting coming in. This past year he said he went twice. When I asked why, he just said the refugees need him. Dimitri has given up his business and his time at the beach to serve and love the refugees. I want to be Dimitri’s neighbor.
Lisa and Dimitri are not alone. I will tell the stories of Riki, Jodi, Autumn, and Mohammad in later posts as each of them have given me an example of what it means to be radically human. To be superhuman is to be something beyond human ability but to be radically human is to be fully human. They have each done something I am perfectly capable of doing as well. Lisa put her studies on hold, even very relevant studies, and Dimitri closed his business. They did this because they saw the need of others and determined it was more important than their own pursuits. This is what it means to be radically human.
A friend of mine,e were all made in the image of God and are meant to reflect his love, grace, and mercy. In Jesus, we discover that God’s love, grace, and mercy is self-emptying and self-sacrificial. Paul gives us a picture of this in Philippians 2. He suggests that if we have experienced the encouragement and love of Christ and/or the sharing of the Spirit than we are to have the same mind and attitude as Christ by choosing the needs of others above our own ambitions. Christ did not die so that we could forgo the work of service to one another but rather that we may have the love, encouragement, and sharing of the Spirit so that we could become truly and fully human. So that we could become radically human.
I love superheroes but radical humans are way more heroic in my eyes. I want to be like them.