Friday, April 14, 2017

A Slave Set Free


I hopped off the back of the mototaxi and peeked my head in the door of Grace House to surprise her. She hugged me tight and kissed my neck, smiling that wide open smile that I remember from three years ago when I first met her. I hugged her right back and told her how good it was to see her.


And it really was so good. I watched her as she prepared the food for the kids that day and she worked ever so diligently. She thanked me over and over for the opportunity to be here, in this place, working. “The smiles of these kids keep me going every day. Thank you. Really, thank you.”

I assured her that it was the Lord who had led her here and it was our privilege to welcome her into our family.

Later, as the food was cooking on the stove that would fill the bellies of many of the kids who didn’t have conditions to bring lunches that day, she called me over. She sat in the chair and I sat at her feet and listened intently as she shared with me the last few months of her life.


“He had dropped off Rafaela that day at her aunt’s house and told her to go play,” she recounted. “When I went to get Rafaela later, after Rafael had found him, she just started screaming. She kept saying, ‘No! He told me to come here to play! That was someone else! Not him!’ and she just ran back and forth through the house.”

I held back the tears, thinking of Rafael discovering his dad’s body, Rafaela learning of his sudden death, and Carla, left alone to care for her three kids.

But deep down I was confused. I know the rest of the story. How he beat them, sometimes until they couldn’t breathe and other times leaving bruises and cuts as evidence. I knew how he didn’t provide for them and certainly never showed fatherly affection. I'd seen him passed out on the side of the street, drunk. So... on some level, wasn’t this a relief?

She continued to share with me the depths of their sadness over the last few months. She said she had gone to the doctor and he told her that if she didn’t find some joy in her life, she would die. My heart ached.

“We are so thankful to have you here, Carla,” I assured her.

She shared more but soon lunchtime came and she moved along to help with all the tasks. I sat and talked with the kids and the other volunteers, and all the while her story lingered in my mind.
Carla's daughter, Rafaela

That evening, Rosa and I sat down along with Bea, and Rosa delved deeper into the story.

“The woman she worked for beat her. Her employer's children would beat her, too,” she shared. I could tell this was heavy for her to speak. “If there wasn’t enough food to eat at lunch, Carla would go hungry or they would give her rotten food. She worked six days a week, all day. They paid her $120 reales (Brazilian currency) a month (**that’s the equivalent of $37 US).” I grimaced as she shared more details.

Again I felt confused. Because the Carla I’ve always seen maintained a smile on her face. She cared for her children with the little she had. I would’ve never guessed the extent of her suffering.

“One day she came to me and asked if she could work at Grace House. If maybe we would have a job for her. Because she thought her employers might be paying her unfairly.”

Carla can’t read. And she doesn’t know the difference between a 10 Real bill and a 100 Real bill. When she finally opened up with Rosa back in February about how they were treating her (for years now), Rosa wrote me to see if there was a possibility to employ her to help at the house.

We didn’t know all of these details at the time, but we said yes. We don’t have the funding, but we do know that Carla and her three children have been special to us for years now and it was no coicidence.



When Carla received her first month’s pay of $500 reales, she told Rosa she wanted to buy a few things. Rosa offered to take her to the grocery store. When she would ask if she had enough money to buy a certain item, Rosa would say yes, because she had plenty. This happened so many times that Carla finally said, “Rosa, I don’t think I can get all of this! They’re going to think we’re stealing!”

Turns out, most of the shops in town were taking advantage of Carla’s inability to decipher money value and they would overcharge her. She typically walked away with a few kilos of rice, noodles, and maybe a chicken. Rosa reassured her she had sufficient funds and she left that day with enough food for her and her kids for the first time in her life. She even had money left over.

“Rosa, could I buy some shampoo?” she asked as they were leaving. “My employer told me that people from my conditions don’t buy those things. But I’d really like to if I have the money.”

I could feel the anger building in my heart towards this employer. How?! Why?! Rosa continued.

“She also said that she really wanted a table with four chairs and a dish cabinet. She didn’t have those things and her employer had cheated her out of the money she received from the government for caring for her kids.”

Her employer would get the money out for her each month and was supposed to be "saving" it for her. What should have been over $10,000 Reales (over $3,000US) in savings over the years turned out to be $1,400 Reales (only $445US). With this money, however, Rosa was able to take her to buy those items for her home.

“She was like a child on Christmas,” Rosa said, laughing and smiling. “You’ve never seen a grown woman so happy. She just kept saying, ‘Are you sure, Rosa? Are you sure I have enough?’”

My heart was full of so many emotions. Anger at her abusers. Joy at her new found freedom. Thankfulness that God would allow us to invest in her life in this way. Uncertainty about how we could maintain her salary on the little funds that come in each month. Faith that God would provide.

That’s about the time the hardest part of the story hit. Her employer was selling her for sexual favors to a married man. My heart felt like it dropped to the pit of my stomach. This sweet lady, probably around my age, though looking much older, was being verbally, physically, AND sexually abused every single day. And she told no one because to her it was “normal” life.

Jesus, be near.

I wanted to go and find this employer and give her the justice she deserved. I wanted to report her for these atrocities and let all the world know the heinous things she had done to this poor woman. How she had taken advantage of her ignorance and lack of education. How she had beaten her down physically and verbally. I was enraged.

But I knew there is no justice to be found in this town. That this story repeats over and over and over again on these streets, with these kids and with these vulnerable women and even men. I knew that it would fall on deaf ears.

Instead I could feel the Spirit telling me to rest here. In this place of knowing that this ONE has been rescued. That freedom has been given to this ONE. That her children now have a chance to know Jesus. That she herself gets to experience His love and compassion every day and have the life-giving access to a community of Believers who love her sincerely. That her oppressors will no longer oppress. And that one day Justice will come. 

About that time I heard her voice through the wall in Rosa's room where we were talking, “I’m heading out Rosa!”

Rosa’s face lit up and she called her in. Carla had that beautiful smile from ear to ear and proudly walked in with her backpack and dressed in her school uniform. Rosa had enrolled her in the night school so that she can learn to read, write, and do basic math.

“I hope my kids will see me going to school and be challenged to work hard. They need an education. I keep telling them,” she said to me.


“I think they’ll see that, Carla,” I assured her. "I think they already do."





Carla's story is not unique. Many employers in this region take advantage of their employees because there is not a system in place to stop them. But we, as Christ followers, can make a difference. We can build relationships with them, let them know we are trustworthy. Care for their children. Love them. Feed them. Clothe them. Be Jesus to them. 
And one day they may have the courage to speak up about their situation. 

Please pray for Carla and her three children, Carine, Rafael, and Rafaela. Pray for them to know Jesus more. To seek Him, trust Him, serve Him. Pray for wisdom and resources as we invest as a Body of Believers in families like Carla's. We need people to partner with us in prayer and giving. 

For more information, visit our website at www.onthebeautifuljourney.com








Monday, January 23, 2017

Life Off the Bandwagon

This is a repost from June 2015. I found it today reading through some old posts and it felt very relevant. I hope it can encourage some of you. 



As I watch from a distance the United States becoming a huge mess, I have very conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I long for God to open eyes so that we remain the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. 

But on the other hand, I simply wait and pray.  After all, it’s hard to see the Light when all seems day. 

So instead I pray for God’s true Church to come down as the darkness closes in. No more cheap grace and Gospel show. No more divide and conquer. 

The Spirit is far from our pretty buildings and well-coordinated programs and our endless checklists of do’s and don’ts.

We hop from bandwagon to bandwagon as they pass by with their Scripture-laden banners flying high, announcing what is right and wrong. All the while our feet never even touch the ground. 

Because it’s messy down there with the lost and broken. And we don’t even recognize that our bandwagon wheels are only making the mud thicker. 

Down there we will get dirty and our clothes will get tattered. We will sweat and we will cry real tears. Our hands and feet will get calloused.

But our hearts will grow softer. Our ears more in tuned to listen. Our eyes focused to see. 

Life off the bandwagon is lonely and exhausting because pouring yourself out will require every ounce of you and more. 

Loving unconditionally requires that we expect nothing in return. 

Nothing. 

It means we get hurt. We may never see “results”. But we keep loving. 

And when the next bandwagon comes along (and come it will), we will be tempted to hop on board for just a little rest. After all, many times those banners wave truth. 

But truth without love is useless. Our words without action are meaningless. 

So we remember our own frailties and brokenness before His grace came down. We remember we were dead—DEAD—in our sins until His life breathed fresh into our lungs.

Only by His sweet, sweet Grace.

So we stay in the mud and muck of this broken world and whisper truths, not with our words but with our actions. We pray for eyes like His. We pray for our lives to speak grace and mercy. We pray for hearts healed and hope found. 

We stop thinking it’s our job to save and condemn. 

And it’s down here that we find we ourselves need to drink deeply of the Living Water that sustains us in this barren place. 

How good that this Spring never dries up! And on the hottest of days and the darkest of nights, we realize He is found right here with us. 

It is in that moment—our awareness of Him—we are no longer afraid. We aren’t afraid to love with our whole being. We aren’t afraid of what others will think or say when we walk with the broken—even those who have yet to realize they have cracks and those who never come to the truth. We walk beside them just the same.

We are no longer afraid of not seeing the “results” we long for. 

We trust Him so. 

We will go as far as we can to show that this Love is real. No news will shake us. No words will break us. Because we will physically ache for those who have yet to see the Light. So much so that the only place we want to be is right in the midst of the hard and ugly. Right beside the lost and lonely.

So here is the invitation to come down. It is too hard to hear the cries from up there anyway. 

Live among the dead. Put your heart into action. No more shouting truths. Just living Love in humility and gratitude to the One who healed our own wounds.

God promises to handle the rest.





This is not a call to giving in, as some would assume. I pray you hear my words. This is a call to action. We have, as a whole, confused the volume of our voice with the deeds of our hands. So often we are passively passionate about so many things. This manifests itself in the form of social media posts and podium outcries, making clear where we stand on issues. But it neglects to create humility and a love that is moved to action. May we be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” as James admonishes. May we realize that “perfect love drives out fear” as John tells us. This is not only fear of the future, but fear of the “what-if”. 

Loving the broken doesn’t mean selling out or even condoning sin. Quite the contrary. Jesus tells us, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 


Let’s love loud because in so doing, we will speak volumes.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A Father for the Fatherless

I'll never forget the look on his face. It is a memory that has come to mind many times since that day over three years ago now. I watched as a man staggered around, finally collapsing to the ground in a heap of drunkeness and I glanced over to see the stare on Rafael's face. It wasn't what you might imagine to see on the face of a ten-year-old boy who just saw his father pass out right in front of the crowd of kids who had gathered together for a friend's birthday party.

It was a sort of blank stare with an odd grin. It wasn't a happy grin, though. (Is there a happy grin to be had when you witness this... again?) It was an embarrassed grin. He continued to watch as Rosa calmly called to her boys to carefully drag him from the road and place him in the grass where at least the risk of getting hit by a mototaxi was lessened.

I pulled Rafael in close and hugged his rigid body tight.

"It's ok. You don't have to be embarassed," I spoke softly. "You didn't choose that life for your father. You can be different."

Tears ran down his cheeks and I held him closely.

We knew his story well enough by now. His mother is a hard-working woman with mental disabilities but a woman who cares for her children with what very little she has. Of the dozens of street kids that used to frequent our living room floor, she's the only one who ever showed up looking for her kids at dinner time. She came with a big sideways grin that will light up a room and all the respect one could have, asking if her kids had been any trouble at all. Even though we'd assure her that hers were indeed some of the politest to grace our home, she once gave us permission to "whip them" if we needed to. She had taught them to have respect and she wouldn't allow any differently.

But there was also the time that Rafael told Richard he was terrified to go home. His dad was drunk and he knew what that meant. The bruises on his older sister and his mom never lied.

Today, Rafael watched his father die in front of him. The details are foggy, but he came home to see him struggle through his last breath. And once again his heart was shattered. Rosa said he and his younger sister, Rafaela, were nearly inconsolable. And in a culture of bold judgements and accusations, Rafael has blamed himself for not being able to save his father in that moment, though everyone knew it was to be the end for his father eventually if no major life change took place.

Devastation. The already fatherless left truly fatherless. And while one could say that at least the abusing will cease, there are still so many scars and pains and confusion because this isn't what it's supposed to be like.

Now that very same grass where Rosa's boys dragged Rafael's father three years ago is the front yard of Grace House. And every day kids come to fill this tiny home up to learn and grow and laugh and play. But many of them go home to these same devastating situations.

There are stories I wish I could un-know. Stories that make me feel physically sick because I know that in these moments, as I type this out, horrific things are happening to many of these kiddos. And it feels like just not enough to run Grace House for these 40-50 kids. To send updates and share photos and relay stories, trusting that the Holy Spirit will move in the hearts of Christ-followers to partner with us prayerfully and financially and maybe even physically to do more because it's a heavy load for the three or four ladies who carry it.

Rosa said she's taking in Rafael and his little sister for a while. Rosa, whose home is already overflowing, housing eleven people, only two of whom are biologically tied to her. The rest Jesus' love knit right into her heart.

And here I sit so far away and I wonder to God, almost daily, why He would move us so far away when He knows that our hearts stayed there. He knows that we long to be present to carry this load and speak Truth and Love. And yet He always reminds me. Today a series of circumstances allowed for our close friend Sam, who is also part of the Amazon Network, to be in Benjamin and he was able to sit with Rafael and speak with him, listen to him, hold him. And my heart fills a little. And the sales from necklaces allow us to give extra this month to cover expenses related to feeding and caring for Rafael's family. And my heart fills a little more. And my own adopted daughter rests peacefully in a safe place tonight because God brought her permanently into our home from that very same street over three years ago now. He's working. The fatherless can know the True Father. There is hope.

Because we are a Body in Christ. And we can't all be the hands. Sometimes we're the elbow. Sometimes we're a knee. But always Christ is the Head of the Body and He is busy at work with our small offerings like a tiny little safe house during the week or an overcrowded home with not much more than eggs and rice or a photo shared on social media to spread the word about what God is doing. Because Rafael is important to Him. He was knit together in the womb. And we get the privilege of investing in his life so that perhaps one day he can know Christ, his Heavenly Father, and grow to have his own family and learn to care for his children and teach them the love of Christ.

And maybe through Christ's incredible power we will see this cycle of abuse and neglect in this tiny jungle town broken, for His glory and the good of His Body.

Pray for Rafael, Carine, Rafaela, and their mom, Carla. Pray for healing. Pray for Christ to make Himself known to them in this dark hour. Pray for Rosa to be filled with faith and love. Pray for Truth to be reveled.

Pray for all the kids of Grace House and our volunteers. Pray for more workers to come alongside this work. Pray for faithful donors. Pray for faithful prayer warriors. Join us in this battle for the lives of the least of these.

(Rafael with some close friends of ours, Steve and Debbie. 
He could hardly leave Steve's side during their time there.)





Wednesday, October 5, 2016

On Being a Difference Maker

I remember as a kid I used to dream of making a difference in people’s lives. I wanted to go on big adventures and heal wounds and preach truth and love hard.

As I got older that desire only grew more and more as I would read the stories of our missionary forefathers. I craved that same resolve that they had to stand in front of the trials with that unshakable faith and face the enemy with boldness. I was one daydream away from skipping through fields of daisies with my Bible in hand and a whole slew of new converts hot on my heals.

Precious.

The hard looked so much easier back then when I could close the pages and roll over in my nice warm bed, clinging to the triumphant ending and dismissing the trials that led up to it.

But without a war, there is no victory. And no one gets to choose the parameters of war.

It all looked a lot easier back before we knew so much. Back before we had hurt so deeply. Back before all the dreams that were dreamed were crushed and replaced with the harsh realities of a broken and fallen world in need of True Love, not showcase Christianity.

I had somehow overlooked all the hard in those heroic stories. Because it’s easy to think of Noah standing in the sunshine with doves and rainbows and a big grin on his face like on all those coloring sheets in Sunday School growing up and forget that he listened as all of humanity drowned outside the walls of boat he had built with his own hands. Those were dark days. 

But wasn’t he a difference maker? He probably didn't feel like much of one. 

“I still don’t get it,” I said to him, sitting on the couch. It was getting late but my mind was full from the day and my body felt heavy from the weight of it all. “He is for us, right? He is true to His Word and He is for His name’s sake. He defends the weak and powerless. He stakes claim to the orphan and widow. So why does it always look this way, so difficult and seemingly hopeless? So much evil and resistence?”

It was about this time last year that a whole group of people abandoned us. They disagreed with one thing we did and that was that. Policy took precedent over orphans and the marginalized and any other good because there were rules and we had apparently broken them.

I was informed about the state of my heart by people who don’t even know me and certainly couldn’t tell you a single name of a person we labor with or a child we were fighting for. Things were said about us that had no basis of fact and we became “another lost cause” because of a difference of opinion.

It was another blow on the heels of many trials. Sort of like getting kicked in the teeth when you’re already down. Remember Job’s friends? Kind of like that.

But it took that for me to realize that they had never actually been with us at all. Now hear me out, because I don't blame them. Unknowingly, they, like I was in the beginning, were after the romance of it all. The adventure and incredible stories, but not the real, blood, sweat, and tears day to day battle. Because when it was hard, they weren’t there. When it was devastating, they were nowhere to be found. But when it broke their rules, made them uncomfortable, they were quick to turn away for the sake of their policy. Fair-weather fans. 

And it taught me so much. Because quite honestly had God not divinely orchestrated our lives just as He had, I may very well have abandoned ship, too. I was unwittingly a fair-weather fan, too. I had these ideas of what it was "supposed" to look like and how it was "supposed" to be. And it looked a lot more cut and dry in my finite mind than when it played out in reality.

If He hadn’t made us get down in the mud and muck and see into those eyes and experience this broken, I probably would’ve walked away and washed my hands of it, too. A proverbial “Bye, Felicia!” if you will.

But it’s too late now. I know too much. Those fairy-tale days are long gone.

I know the names of these little kids who have been and are being raped. I know of the beatings and the abuse of children and wives because they were my neighbors and are my friends. I know about the young kids who are exposed to sexually explicit and perverted environments from birth and I’ve literally watched the cycle take place of victim to victimizer because they played in my living room floor.  I see poverty and recognize that it has very little to do with a financial state and so much to do with a vicious cycle that runs generations deep. I’ve seen the men passed out on the roads every morning and the women with their bodies exposed staggering down the street. The depravity of man. The hopeless generations. 

I’ve looked into the empty eyes of an orphan.

And I’ve made one my daughter at the expense of everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

I’ve watched an institution called “church” use the holy name of Jesus Christ for its own gain. I’ve seen them falsely accuse the faithful, humble servants of God. I’ve seen them condemn and vomit hate on the very ones we are called to love. I’ve watched “pastors” build their kingdoms, preach a false gospel of comfort and prosperity, and lead so many down the same path.

I've seen the injustices. But more than that, I've felt it deeply. 

It’s devastating when we step outside of ourselves and our preconceived ideas and our comforts and bend down low and truly see the brokenness of this world and ourselves. 

But it is oh so beautiful, too.

Because I’ve also seen miraculous redemption. I’ve seen kids rescued from hopelessness. I’ve seen bellies filled and arms embrace. I’ve seen souls redeemed and love abound. I’ve seen Truth proclaimed and bonds broken. I’ve seen transformation and confession. I’ve seen unity and freedom.

I’ve watched a Body called Church come together as one in a place of deep darkness, despite differences of language and culture and ethnicity, and rejoice in a Savior who knows and cares and sees us. I’ve seen wounds healed and bodies mended. I’ve wept with the weeping and rejoiced with those who rejoice.  

I’ve seen True Love and it is radical and transforming and very much alive.

“I don’t know why it’s this way, really,” he responded. “But I know that I’d much rather walk these deep valleys now, and suffer with our brothers and sisters now. Because, from my experience, the deeper the valley, the greater the joy and the deeper the relationship with our Father. And that? That's worth every hardship.”

And it occurs to me: this is what it looks like to be a difference maker. In fact, this is what I’ve actually dreamed of my whole life and just didn’t know it. Hard. Overwhelming. Incomprehensible. Debilitating. It’s supposed to leave you on your face in your closet weeping because you feel like you can’t breath under the weight of it all and begging God to draw near, to defend His name, to bring justice and mercy, confessing we need Him. That we can't handle it on our own.

It’s not supposed to be easy, with comfortable buildings and fancy programs and convenient, mediocre commitments to check off a man-made list. It’s not ABC or 123. It's not rules and restrictions. It’s not being passively passionate about the newest bandwagon brigade on social media. It’s not supposed to look like building our kingdom here, fattening our hearts for the day of slaughter as James calls it. 

And it sure as hell isn’t supposed to look like the American dream.

It’s supposed to look like dying. It’s supposed to look like enduring. It’s supposed to look like habitual brokenness for the world around us. It’s supposed to look like sacrifice and surrender. It’s supposed to look like defending the poor and powerless. It’s supposed to look like bringing them into our homes and lives. It's supposed to look like opening our doors and hearts. It's supposed to inconvenience us. It's supposed to look like mercy and grace. Peace and hope. Freedom and forgiveness. 

It's supposed to look like a Body unified. 

It’s supposed to look like the opposite of everything that makes sense to the world and even ourselves.

And I personally have never seen any of these things take place in the midst of the comfort and ease. And I can't seem to find an example of that in Scripture either. It's always in the brokeness and the longing, because that's what drives us to our knees and empties us of ourselves.

I’ve met some real-life difference makers. I call many of them my closest friends. They don’t look much like you might think. They’re simple and weak. Poor and broken. They aren't eloquent and they don't have much materially speaking. They make mistakes and get scared. But they’ve given everything and then some for the sake of the Gospel because they believe in its power that deeply. It’s not quite as pretty as I imagined in the early days. I can't seem to fit it inside of a neat little box, either.


I still want to be a difference maker.  Because they are some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. 

And that’s because they look a lot like Jesus.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Pray for Grace House

I sat across the living room from her and I felt like with each word coming out of her mouth, someone was placing another brick on my shoulders.

God brought her here and this journey has been devastating to all that I have ever known. For three years now, our life has been turned upside down.

She told the stories and I just kept thinking, “They’re still out there. All of the other littles are still out there.”

And it feels so heavy to walk this path that is our new normal and to carry this weight with our now daughter and navigate these treacherous black waters. But what if we had left her there? I can’t fathom.

But what if I had known that this would be so hard? Would I have said it was worth it? Would I do it again?

All those little faces dance through my mind and I can feel my heart aching under the weight of it all. I know their names. I know their stories. I know their reality.

And what more can we do? We have Grace House and it’s a safe place. But we are new at this whole thing and the growing pains hurt, too. The enemy just wants to destroy and we can’t know what we don’t know.

So we bend our knees and beg God for wisdom and discernment with our daughter and with the children’s home because we know—we KNOW—that His heart is for the orphaned child. He is FOR us in this.

Will you join us? We need prayer for Rosa. We need prayer for Aurilene. We need prayer for the other volunteers. We need prayer for the kids. We need prayer for more volunteers, more people with a heart and passion to teach and love and serve.


We need prayer.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Savage

I remember very vividly the first time I saw him.

Mariclene had been our breakfast visitor for a while and on occassion she would show up with one of her biological siblings so they could also devour eggs and bread, often their only real meal for the day.

He was butt. naked.

Every time he showed up. Naked.



His long, seemingly highlighted, curly hair reached his shoulders and he had this wild-eyed look on his face at all times. He was about two years old at the time and couldn’t say a single word. He always came toting his little broken riding toy. (And if another child tried to take said toy, screaming and grunting quickly ensued!)

He was the cutest thing, though remarkably reminding me of a modern baby tarzan.

Richard and I would joke between the two of us calling him “O selvagem”, meaning “the savage”. Because between the naked buttcheeks and the grunts, well, he seemed pretty savage!

His two big sisters cared for him, but mostly Mariclea, his older sister. She was eight.

She would walk with him down the street and fix him a bowl of “farinha” and water. She brought him “home” and just looked after him in general.

She was EIGHT.

Fast-forward to our first Grace House meeting nearly three years ago. We were discussing everything: who would be in charge of daily decisions, what would a meal plan look like and so on. And then it was brought up, “What do we do when we are at capacity and there is STILL a need?”

We all just sort of sat there. Because you want to say, “We will just take them anyway, of course!” But there is this part of you that says, “What about a place to sleep when the floor is already full? What about food when you are already dividing up the pieces of bread? And, perhaps most of all, what about truly providing love when Rosa is already stretched so incredibly thin?”

We kind of just left it there because who really wants to address that? We’ll just cling to James 1.5 when that moment comes...

So here we are, reading James 1.5 and praying over it, asking God to give that generous dose of wisdom. Because yesterday we got word that little “savage” has been returned to his birth mother. And that’s a really bad situation.

For the past little while, he has been with another woman in Atalaia, a little jungle town about 45 minutes from Benjamin. While we knew that this was also not an ideal situation, we knew that at the very least he was being fed, had a place to sleep, and was going to school regularly. Sometimes, we just have to rest in that and God’s grace to fill in the gaps.

But now, the woman who had taken him in has left her husband for another man and returned the boy to the biological mother as though he were an object that she had just gotten tired of. I wish I could say that this is unusual, but it’s not. These types of situations happen all. the. time. Parents and caregivers are caught up in the poverty cycle and are very detached from their children. So to pass them off to another is often a mindless, heartless action. It’s more like a reflex when times get tough. One less thing to worry about.

So the boy is now with his biological mother and she does not want him. She has made that clear not only through her words, but through her actions. She has already given away Mariclene to us and three of her other biological siblings to Rosa, as well as another fourteen year old boy who lives with another family, (though he mostly roams the streets). She does not have a stable home. She sells herself and her things to feed her drug habits. It’s a terrible situation for a child.

It may seem like the obvious thing to do is to bring him to Grace House. I hear ya. I wish so much that it were that simple. But to say that Rosa is at capacity is an understatement. She currently has 11-12 people living in her 1,000 square foot home with no running water. Most nights there are 2-3 to a bed. The actual home of Grace House cannot yet be used to house the children because God has not sent us house parents yet to be full-time caregivers. This leaves Rosa to continue to manage her own home as well as the 40+ kids that show up Monday-Thursday for the  program. Additionally, she feeds 10-15 kids those days as well. And through various circumstances, all of her full-time volunteer help has had to step down for one reason or another, some health related, some job related. This has left Rosa, her middle son Pepeco, and their neighbor, Eliana, to carry the weight of about 50 kids.

All of this leaves us in a quandry. We know that Jesus’ heart is for the children of this town. We see that throughout scripture. We know that He provides. And yet, we don’t know what to do. Because all of these physical circumstances don’t even touch the issue that children from this background have massive emotional and behavioral needs. Taking in a five year old boy with attachment disorders and survival instincts is a task for a family, not a single lady already at capacity.

So that’s what we are praying for. Against all odds, we are praying for a godly family to take in this boy and truly, deeply love him. He needs that.

My heart aches, y’all. I want to take him in myself. Having passed through that valley within our own family, I recognize the immense struggle a family would be facing to accept him in and the reality is, most aren’t able or willing. But we are praying in faith the God will send one, against all odds.

Please pray for this situation with us. Pray for wisdom, faith, hope, and a family to care for this boy whom we all love dearly.


This is a picture from about two years ago of Mariclene with four of her biological siblings.
 The boy in the front is the boy at risk. The other three already live at Grace House.
He is only about three-years-old in this picture. 
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