I have a friend named Felipe. He doesn’t go to my school, live anywhere near me, or speak my language. In fact, he lives in a little village called La Chuscada in northwest Nicaragua, a place that would take me 12 hours to get to from my home in Birmingham.

DSCN3323I met Felipe while serving in Nicaragua during this summer.  As we worked together to build a water system for his village, I found that he kept coming back to me; he kept telling me to put down the shovel and come dance or hang out with his group of friends.

I did not realize it until later, but Felipe needed something from me, and it was something more significant than a system that will provide his family with clean water. He needed someone to acknowledge that he has a story, that he isn’t a poverty statistic or a census number. He’s a teenage boy who goes to school and work and has dreams about his future. He has friends and hobbies. He has a a story. Felipe also desperately needed someone to say “your story is important to me,” someone to tell him that he matters.  And I pray I was able to show Felipe just that.

Felipe taught me is that every single person, all six billion people on this planet we call home, want to be known deeply and loved deeply. They desperately need to know that they are important and their story matters.

Because in today’s world, it is too easy to forget.

When I’m in a hurry and get caught up in all the hustle and bustle of this world, it’s easy to forget that the person standing behind the McDonald’s counter is really a teenage boy who is trying to help his family pay the bills. The person stocking the shelves at Walmart is a woman who just lost her husband and works two jobs to take care of her children. The professor teaching my class is hurrying off to the hospital after class, because his wife is about to give birth to their first daughter. Every person we encounter has a story. Each person has a life full of joy and sorrow, of pain and gladness, of failure and redemption.

Each person we pass was uniquely created by God, to be known intimately and loved deeply. Every person, from the drug dealer on the corner to the student sitting in the classroom, has a story.

Because people are precious.

They are dying to be heard, to be known, to be loved.

They need to know that their story matters.