Loving My Neighbour

This post is part of a series of three that will highlight stories of some women of Westside leading up to our 2019 Women’s Retreat called Warrior.

What does it mean to be a warrior? For Jocelyn Kwok it means allowing the Lord to open her eyes to the needs and the brokenness of people around her and responding with compassion, feeding the hungry and visiting the sick.

Sitting across the table over breakfast at a local White Spot, I am struck by Jocelyn’s humble joy. Her demeanor is peaceful but determined. As the waitress approaches our table, Jocelyn is intentional to greet her. We place our orders and chat for a few minutes. It’s not long before we start talking about Jesus, church and ministry.

If you had asked Jocelyn a few years ago whether she could see herself co-leading The Melting Pot (a ministry that feeds the hungry) or whether she thought she would someday live in community with Syrian refugees, she would have said no. “Ministering to the marginalized was never on my radar. I didn’t see this as my calling,” she says. As she grows to know God better through Bible study and prayer, and understands more about what Jesus has done for her, her heart has softened toward those who are out-cast in society. Serving internationally in India with Child of Mine also influenced her heart for serving in Vancouver by opening her eyes to the marginalized here.  “There are so many people we just walk by and we don’t treat them as image bearers of God. We determine that there is no hope for them. They are created in the image of God as much as you and me, and He loves them with the same unending love.”

Jocelyn is convinced that God guides each step of every situation; and she has seen this firsthand many times. Up until a few months ago, Jocelyn and her roommates lived in community with a couple from Syria who had fled during the ongoing Syrian war. Jocelyn and her roommates realized they had room in their home for a refugee family and they knew of a program being run through Tenth Avenue Alliance church where some of their friends attended. They registered with this program and waited. After fleeing Syria, a couple connected with a Canadian government agency where someone who attends Tenth Avenue Alliance church works. This person is Jocelyn’s friend who knew they had room in their home for this couple. This connection led to Jocelyn and her roommates living with this couple for over 2 years. Although they no longer live in the same home, Jocelyn maintains a friendship with this couple meeting them for coffee or a meal a few times a month. A ministry that started with a formal program has become a part of day-to-day life that has been changing Jocelyn just as much as it has ministered to them.

When Jocelyn speaks about this couple, the deep affection she has for them is obvious through her tone of voice and her huge smile. She tells me about different foods they have introduced her to and how they have found a way to forge a friendship despite so many differences including life experience, culture and religion.

As we continue to enjoy our breakfast, I move the conversation to other ministries Jocelyn is involved in. She serves as the co-leader for Melting Pot, a ministry that feeds the hungry and the lonely. There are those who come by regularly and those who have only been once or twice. She recalls a time when a young woman came to Melting Pot. “She wasn’t ‘obviously’ needy. She seemed externally put together but was noticeably sad about something. She had broken up with her boyfriend and just needed someone to talk to. I fulfilled that need for her and have only seen her once since. I pray for her sometimes because we never know how God will use that sort of thing.” Meeting the needs of the broken may be something that happens at one moment in time or turn into an ongoing relationship. It is not for us to determine the purpose of each interaction. By paying attention to what God is doing around her, Jocelyn finds herself in situations only God could have orchestrated. This type of opportunity is a privilege that strengthens her faith, reveals God’s faithfulness and reminds her that extending grace and mercy is just a small reflection of what God has done for her.

Jocelyn has walked side by side with those who have lost a spouse, been hospitalized, experienced heartbreak, and needed a friend. Because God pours out His love on her, she strives to pour out His love on others. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3: 16.  God is transforming her, and in turn, He is transforming her friendships and her perspective on who she is and what matters most. “It’s not the doing that matters. I need to remember that when I serve, I am serving God Himself.”

God’s presence in these situations has led her to realize that we are all equally broken. Jocelyn believes she has received as much, if not more, than she has given. She has come to a deeper understanding of how much God cares for her and that He pursues people. We are supposed to live the same way. Recently, she was in a women’s bible study that studied the book of 1 John. 1 John 2:5b-6 says, “by this we may be sure that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”Jesus is compassionate, passionate and just. He is patient and kind and He intimately knows all of us. Jocelyn believes she ought to walk in this way also. As the Lord leads her, she recognizes that He rules over all and He entrusts us with people for the time He has given them to us. She has been encouraged through the deep friendships she has built in the church through bible studies, community group and in doing ministry at Melting Pot. This has shown her that the Lord, in His wisdom, has created us to be people who are changed by the community we keep and that the transformative power of God can be made known through the church (Ephesians 3:8-10).  So, we need to create room in our community to embrace the broken and the marginalized. This will help break the chains of darkness and set captives free.

As my conversation with Jocelyn comes to a close, it is clear that she is not satisfied to stay where she is. She continues to ask the Lord to open her heart and her eyes to the needs around her. 

“What’s next?” I ask her.

“As scary as this is,” she replies, “I believe God is leading me to prison ministry. They are a group of people we forget about a lot. I have no idea what that will look like, but I know that God is speaking and I need to be obedient.”

It is clear to me that the Lord is moving. The Lord continues to ask more of Jocelyn and she continues to receive more from Him. Her life is strengthened with power through His Spirit in her inner being so that Christ may dwell in her heart through faith (Ephesians 3:16-17). I leave our time together challenged to become a person who views every person I meet as an image bearer of God, to walk in the way Jesus walked that those around me may be drawn to the only one who can save and satisfy and to give a cup of water in His name. And I ask myself, how is God leading me today?

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me…Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
 Matthew 25: 35-36, 40
Have you considered joining us on this year's Women's Retreat?
The retreat is November 1-3, 2019 at Harrison Hot Springs.
If you're young, old or somewhere in between; if you've been part of Westside for two weeks or fourteen years, this retreat is for you! We want you to know and believe that you can be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

Laura Colley is a Registered Nurse who is a Clinical Practice Consultant at Fraser Health. She has been attending Westside since the beginning. Laura teaches bible study because she is passionate about people knowing the bible for themselves. She also plays on the worship team.
Photography: Noah Asanias (Storytelling & Visual Arts Team)
Categories: Community,Local Missions,Stories,Women