Thursday, June 16, 2016

When You Know You Aren't Called

I watched him as he focused so intently on those little circles on the page. His little hand moving slowly but surely.

It felt surreal. This is the same boy who I had little hope for. The one I wrote about just last year and the emptiness in his eyes. And yet here he was, in his little red “House Grace” shirt with a pencil in hand and dedication in his mind.

“How can this be?” I thought to myself. “How is it that God would allow us to do this thing? How is it that He would let us be a part of loving the least of these in this way?”

I remember vividly the conversation that I had with Richard when we began seeing so many needs for these littles running barefoot and wild in the streets every day. Back when they filled our living room every morning and we filled their bellies with eggs and bread and hugged them tight. Richard and I sat together and life was lonely and heavy and doors had already started closing to our aviation dreams and we were wondering what our role was here in the place after all. And I told him that these kids needed a safe place.

“We weren’t called to start a children’s home,” he said. And I knew that was true. After all, {confession} I mostly didn’t even like being around kids that weren’t my own.

And yet, there was still something. The weeks passed and still this lingering thing that there was something brewing in our hearts for these kids and while we weren’t called to run a children’s home, maybe we were in fact called to build one. To facilitate. To empower.

My mind wandered even further back. Back before we moved on the street that changed our lives. Before we saw these sweet faces and met Rosa and our life was forever altered. I was sitting in the kitchen of another missionary. We had only lived in Benjamin Constant for maybe two weeks and we had yet to look for a house. They had taken us in for the time being and were orienting us on the small town we now unexpectedly called home.

“There are a lot of abandoned kids here,” he told me. “Parents abuse or neglect their kids, but there is no where for them to go. No safe house or orphanage. If fact, there is a surprising high number considering it’s such a small town.”

“Listen up,” I remember distinctly hearing the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart.

It was almost audible. I think I may have even had a look of confusion on my face when I thought, “How in the WORLD does this apply to ME?”

He went on about this need and I listened. And something was nagging at my heart, telling me to remember this conversation.

And now, over three years later, I sit with a little boy as he practices writing letters for the first time. A boy who refuses to go to school and his mom doesn’t care if he eats or has clothes or studies. But here he is. At Grace House under Rosa’s daily care being loved and told that Jesus loves him. That He died for him. That there is hope for him.

I glanced up when I heard a boy call out, “Chico!” Chico looked up and three boys walked by laughing at him.

Chico hung his head and stopped writing.

“Hey, you’re doing great! I’m so proud of you. Look at this “o”! You’re really learning a lot,” I spoke truth over him.  I smiled at him. “You’ve got this.”

He sat up, just a little, and started writing again. He finished moments later and looked up at me with the sweetest grin to show me his work.


He scurried off to play and my heart swelled. There is Hope in this place. Hope for Chico and his big sister whose story would break your heart to pieces. There is Hope for every one of the forty plus kids that come through these doors every day. Jesus loves these kids and He has plans for their futures and we get to play a small part.

I know what that feels like, that moment when your peers laugh. They see what you’re doing and they scoff, “They don’t know what their doing! This thing can’t make it. They’re unqualified. They don’t know what they want. They need {insert whatever here that they seem to know that we don’t}.”

Sometimes it makes me want to do just like Chico, hang my head and stop for a while. Maybe they’re right. Maybe this whole thing will crumble apart. Can we really impact an entire town by reaching a few kids? Can we really overcome evil with good?

But the Holy Spirit whispers, “Hey, you’re doing great! I’m with you! This is My work. You get to be a part. Believe Me. You’ve got this because I’ve got you. You were called to this.”

So we put our hands back to the plow and we trust that He who is in us is greater than He who is in the world. And I see Richard, now so passionate about something we were "not called to do". And we know that He did call us to this, even if it was never in our pretty, laid-out plans. His ways are so much higher than our own. He has a purpose and even if we only reach one, that’s enough.

Join us. Join us as we love the least of these. Pray for their souls to know Christ. Pray for Rosa to have strength to endure the trials and faith to carry on, despite opposition. Pray for these volunteers that sacrifice their time and resources every week to love these kids and show them there is Hope and His name is Jesus. Pray for the kids’ lives to be impacted. Pray for the parents’ lives to be impacted. Pray for funds to come in. Pray for the Spirit to open hearts and eyes to the needs here so that they sacrifice and give.

Pray. Give. Believe with us that this little home can make a huge difference for His Kingdom, right here.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

His Kingdom, Right Here {Part 3}

I glanced up at his face while she told me about the boy that had hung himself just two days prior. He had the same look I’d seen before—one of resilience but also desperation. It’s a fierce kind of look that he seems to carry with him everywhere.

And how could you not bare that expression when you live in this reality of dark forces all around yet you yourself are full of Light? The contrast is harsh.

They’d invested in the young man who chose to take his own life after a fall-out with his wife. He had lived on their grounds like the dozens of other boys that they care for and invest in, including his own brother. They’d spoken Hope and Truth over him. And yet, the darkness prevailed.

It’s a heavy burden to carry and one that’s weight is exaggerated all the more when you find yourself isolated in the depths of the Amazon jungle.

She went on to tell me more about the six-year-old boy who rejoined their family after having been taken away from them by missionaries without their consent—the son of a witchdoctor, mysteriously entrusted to their care. She told me stories that give goosebumps. They’re the kind of stories that missionaries like to tell from the front of America’s air-conditioned church buildings. They make good fundraising material.

But it’s not so glamorous when it’s your reality, this kneeling down early in the morning to pray away the evil. There are 19 young men who live on their property with them. Each with their own story, their own past. Some are Christ-followers now. Others quite the opposite.  All of them hearing and experiencing the Love that surpasses tribal cultures and languages and myths and strongholds.

But not all of them experiencing the freedom that comes from knowing the True Healer, Father, Life-giver.

Little nine-month-old Sofia bounced in her lap as she continued to unload these burdens and my mind tried to reconcile all of the disparities of young men overcome by darkness with bouncing infants in all the innocence, wondering how Hope can prevail in all of this hopelessness.

And then it hits me that the Hope is sitting right in front of me. It is Josi, sitting with her daughter whom she will raise up to know Jesus as her Father. It is Marcos, with his hand on his son Lucas’s back, whom he will teach what it means to be a Christ-follower. It is little Tepi, learning from Marcos in the wee hours of the morning as they swing together in the hammock, speaking of the True Chief. 

It’s the day to day of hard prayers and hard Truth being spoken on their property on a little parcel of land in the midst of the jungle as they invest in the lives and futures of these young indigenous men who will go back to their tribes and communities, armed in the darkness with the True Light.

There is Hope. And it’s a Hope that prevails through the darkest of places and the pierces the coldest of hearts. It’s through the day in and day out. The bending and pouring out of lives spent for the broken. It's each of us investing in our own disciples, the children He has entrusted to us. It's the dying to of self and dreams and plans for the sake of the one. It's believing that He is True and His Love is worth the cost. 

It's building His Kingdom, right here. 

“The people who live in darkness 
have seen a great light, 
and for those living in the shadowland of death, 
light has dawned.”
Matthew 4.16

This is a multi-post series. See His Kingdom, Right Here {Part One} and {Part Two}.
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