I've gotten in the habit this year of referring to my Chin-Zo housemates as "my people." And when the good pastor comes visiting with his seven daughters, I smile and think that they are also my people... and it just naturally extends to the other families that make up the Zo Assembly.
Since I first experienced those maternal protective instincts with the youth group, I've referred to them as "my kids," or "our kids," when other leaders are around. I save all the notes they write to me and all the pictures they color for me. I've got their photographs on the wall in my room, where I can see them every morning and pray for them by name.
About a month ago, I started referring to my Women's Club ESL students as "my people," too. It's true, we've got a special little community that meets every week at the dining room table of Little Burma, and they are "mine" in a more personal and intimate way than the other women who sew and knit and make jewelry next door. I know the job statuses of each of their husbands, how many of them are on waiting lists for apartments, who is expecting a baby and who is praying for God to give them a baby this year.
Today Brenda sent me an article about violence and displacement of refugees in Somalia: http://www.unhcr.org/4d9efe6d9.html. And as I read, and clicked on other links and read more, my sad thought was, "Oh, these are my people..." The thought kind of surprised me, because I've always referred to this particular people group as "Jayne's people," because she has known them the longest and best, or "Eldon's people," because he's in their homes all the time and is their advocate. But I know their names now, and their brightly colored hijabs are so familiar to me that I can identify each woman or girl from behind. I've held a Somali baby, danced Somali-style with the girls, and hugged Somali women around the neck. Somewhere along the way, they've become my people too. And even if I never meet any of the 33,000 who were displaced in the past month, I feel a connection with them, even a love for them.
This family of mine is about as diverse as a family can be, and it continues to grow... I'm glad to know and love so many who are called "my people."