On empathy – Sarah Hoyle

Sarah Hoyle, summer 2015 intern, reflects on the role of empathy in ministry and mission on her blog. Here’s a sample:

There I was, sitting on the cold linoleum floor of a church on Staten Island, crying until my eyes ached. I was 14 years old, on a mission trip to NYC with my church youth group. While I tend to be very critical of mission trips (a story for another post), this week serving in the city drastically changed my young perception of the world around me. That day, realized for the first time the extent to which I was writing off the homeless and hungry I saw every day in the city as less than human. My task that day day at a local food pantry was to work down the line of people waiting in line for food, asking each individual his or her name. I had seen these people sleeping on benches and pushing shopping carts full of belongings, but never looked them in the eyes to fully face their struggles and humanity. But that day, as I scribbled down their names on the list and spoke with them a little about their day, I recognized that these people had stories and mothers and dreams and favorite foods and all the things I tend to want to forget make people seemingly so unlike myself so similar to me. To say this realization rocked my teenage world is an understatement, but it’s also an overstatement to think that I have dutifully carried this empathy with me through my life so far.

This time around in New York City, it’s still hard to look into the eyes of the homeless men and women begging for change on the subway or sleeping on the church steps outside of my dorm. It’s hard to know just what to do in the face of this form of suffering, but especially so as I power walk my way across town to help the Presbyterian Ministry advocate to the United Nations for the Human Rights of people across the world.

Read the whole post.


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