Dr. Janet Dean – “Here”
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” – Luke 14:13-14
Early in my faith journey, I believed that being a Christian missionary meant going overseas, and I distinctly remember telling my friends and my pastor that there was no way God would ever call me to be a missionary. I’m just not that type of person.
Several years later, I was in training to become a psychologist, a mental health professional. One of my first community placements was in community mental health. I had anticipated the rampant relationship difficulties, mental illness, drug addictions, and pervasive dysfunction, but I never expected the abject poverty. Since then I have worked with adults who have no family members, no financial resources, no place to stay, no food to eat, and very little, if any ability to help themselves. They often end up, at best, in promiscuous or drug-based relationships that tenuously provide for some of their basic needs, or, at worst, homeless or in prison. I also have worked with children who are abused, neglected, abandoned, and starving – for food, for touch, for safety, for stability, or, more simply, for someone to just read a story to them just one time in their lives.
These people are here in my community. They are my neighbors. They are the mission field to which God has called me. God hasn’t called me to go, rather He has called me to bring these folks in – to share grace and life with them – right here in my community, my schools, my workplace, my church, my home, my very life.
- Dr. Janet Dean, Assistant Professor, Behavioral Sciences