Mother Teresa had been a teaching nun in a covenant in India that had high walls with beautiful peaceful gardens on the grounds. She taught the children of the wealthiest in her city.  She enjoyed material security, never had to search for food, medicine or clothing— never a concern about her safety.  She was the happiest nun in the world.

One day Teresa exchanged correspondence with her mother, sharing about her pleasant lifestyle. When her mom replied, “My dearest daughter, do not forget that you went out there to help the poor.”

Then came the “call within the call.” It was difficult to initially leave her family in Europe and enter into religious life. But as she heard abut the abject poverty and disease in the streets of Calcutta: leprosy victims begging for money, little children starving, the bundles of rags on the sidewalks that turned out to be people, God was tugging on her heart to serve the poorest of the poor.

Then God confirmed her new assignment on a train trip to the Himalayan foothills—to leave the convent and live among the poor. It was an order.

When the door of the covenant closed behind her, Mother Teresa stood all alone in the streets of Calcutta’s slums: no shelter, no company, no helper, no money, no employment, no promise, so guarantee, no security.  She prayed, “My God I trust Your call.  You will not let me down.”

As she walked the streets with five rupees she gradually gave them away, the last one to a priest. A little while later, the priest returned and handed her an envelope. Apparently, a man heard about her ministry to the poor and wanted to help.  It had 50 rupees in it.

Mother Teresa cleared a space of all the garbage in a public park and gathered a group of small children to teach them the alphabet. She would bring them food and medicine whenever she could—begging, in order to care for the children. Then one night a frail looking girl knocked on her door.  “Mother, I have come to join you.” The girl became the first of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries to Charity.

One of my favorite quotes is when a journalist watched Mother Teresa wash the wounds of a street person. He said, “I wouldn’t do that for a million dollars.” She said, “Neither would I.”

You have been called to follow Jesus. What is your call within the call?

–By Rev. Dr. William Lewis