Lenten Devotional: Serve

    by Loretta Ishida

    This reflection is part of our special Season of Hope Lenten devotional series. Be sure to check back each week as we share reflections from a diversity of people whose prayer and support make the mission and ministry of Lutheran World Relief possible. You can read the entire series by pressing the button below.


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    “After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’”  John 13:12-15 


    In my seven years at LWR, I’ve seen many changes, including substantial growth, but I haven’t seen people hung up on hierarchy. If I’m passing by the president’s office, I can drop in without an appointment to share an idea. The secretary in the Burkina Faso office can email me and suggest a better process for approving vacation requests. No one says, “It’s not your place to say that.” 

    That said, not every task is glamorous. At LWR, the drivers and office assistants in our overseas offices take care of some of those less visible jobs. 

    If you visit LWR in Kenya, you will be picked up at the airport by a gentleman with a giant smile. You will then walk into our office in Nairobi and be welcomed by a somewhat quiet woman with a sweet smile. 

    Daniel, our Kenya driver, works the longest hours of us all. When I’m visiting to see a project site at 7AM, Daniel has already had  to come all the way from his home, pick up the vehicle at the office, drive to my hotel through morning traffic, all before I even come to the lobby. Then we’re on the road for 6 hours. I can nap or look out the window, but he has to stay alert. We stop and visit a community group for 2 hours, then off to the hotel. But Daniel’s work is not done as he makes sure the car is clean, both inside and out, and the gas tank is full for the next day. Then we start all over again. 

    Flora is our office assistant in Kenya who is the first person to show up in the morning. She makes sure the office is tidy and presentable and the hot water is ready for her colleagues’ tea. She is the face and voice of LWR, answering telephone calls and welcoming office visitors. Flora is the one who takes care of in-person transactions at the bank – vital tasks but ones that often involve waiting in line for long periods.  

    Flora makes sure her colleagues have a welcoming and properly functioning work environment. Daniel not only ensures passengers’ comfort in the car (clean interior, extra water, first aid kit), he is the main person responsible for our safety on the road. One thing is sure – if either did not do her or his job properly, the other staff members would notice right away!  

    Despite the fact that Flora and Daniel’s jobs are not ones which we might immediately think of when we envision the world changing service of LWR, they truly do follow the example Christ sets for us by “washing the feet” of those in need in Kenya through their devotion to their work. They teach me about servanthood: to joyfully do one’s part and rarely ask for credit. By executing their roles which some might see as humble, they play their part to enable LWR to carry out its mission to end poverty, injustice and human suffering. 

    Some of my responsibilities are behind the scenes at LWR and are not particularly glamorous. For instance, making sure annual budgets are submitted in the correct format by the deadline was not really what I had in mind when I first began my career path in international development (I was out to help serve the poor!). Seeing the examples that Flora and Daniel set for me, I am reminded that I, too, play my small part to allow all of us at LWR carry out the mission to end poverty, injustice and human suffering. 

    Who are your foot washers in your daily life? How do they set an example for how you will serve others as Jesus served us?  


    God who comes to us a servant, thank you for all those in our lives who display to us Christ-like service to the world. May we learn from them and embody the grace of Jesus to all those we meet. AMEN. 


    Loretta Ishida serves as the Deputy Director for Operations for Africa for Lutheran World Relief.