Seeing the Unseen

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase the unseen? Perhaps like most people, you think about people who are hidden from society: victims of human trafficking or vulnerable children. We know these people are out there and we would help them in their plight if only we could see them.

In this fast-paced world, adult leaders need to not only model gratitude for those who are often unseen but also actively lead young people in serving those who serve.


Who Are the Unseen?

The unseen are right in front of our eyes. We may interact with them or barely acknowledge their existence. We buy our groceries from them, wait for them to finish cleaning the restroom so we can use it, or wish they would just go faster when we stand in line to pay our annual car registration fees. They are unseen because we don’t open our eyes.

Jesus spoke to our inability to notice those around us:

“For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”—Matthew 25:42–45 (NIV)

Think back over your day today or yesterday. How many people did you encounter that you just didn’t see? Were you in such a hurry that perhaps you were rude to someone? Did you take the time to look someone in the eye and tell them thank you?

There are opportunities to be salt and light everywhere we go! There is not a day that goes by that we are not “on mission.” We simply have to open our eyes to those around us.


Here’s an Idea

Take your students out for lunch, coffee, or ice cream. They won’t know it but they will be on a mission trip.

After you order, pick seats so that your students can see the counter. Talk about “the unseen” and share the verses in the Bible. Ask them to observe the way the people behind the counter are treated. Discuss ways in which you could minister to the people who work there. You could write thank-you notes, offer to bus tables, or talk to a manager about needs that the workers may have. For example, there could be someone who has a family member in the hospital but they can’t afford to take the time off to be with them.

Once the students eyes have been opened to those immediately in front of them, discuss other people who are unseen. They will quickly come to realize that there are many people who either have “thankless jobs” or whom they have chosen not to thank.

Working together, develop an action plan to minister to others who are unseen. Ideas may include decorating the door to the janitor’s closet at school with notes of appreciation, making a poster-sized driver’s license with creative names/addresses to show gratitude to the staff at the driver’s license station, or paying for flowers at the grocery store and immediately giving them to the cashier.

Encourage the students (and remind yourself) that when we see and serve those who are unseen, it is Jesus that we ultimately serve. As Matthew 25:40 says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

When we open our eyes to the unseen, we will see Jesus. There’s no greater gift that you can give your students, the world, or yourself than this simple truth.

LaRaine Rice serves as the Lexington (KY) area leader for Orphan Care Alliance. She has served as a missionary, youth/college consultant for Kentucky WMU, and a teacher. She is married to Jeff and together they have two children.

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