The world is broken. When sin entered this place in the Garden of Eden and everything straight was made crooked, there was nothing mankind to do to help itself.
None of us is immune to the pain that living on a broken planet delivers.
We have all been injured.
Remember hurtful words thrown your way? Betrayal by a spouse or family member ?
Someone you trusted sharing your secret pain for his own gain?
Injustice and prejudgement directed at you in times you had no power to defend yourself?
But we have also caused injury.
We have gossiped. We have chosen to believe gossip. We have lied.
We have stolen. We have been prideful and smug when humility was called for.
We have hidden behind the name of Jesus in an effort to avoid reaching out to people who live their sin out loud and proud. We have kept a record of our own good deeds and trotted them out when it suited us. We have been silent when we knew we should speak.
In short, we have inflicted harm on other human beings. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident .
The child in the picture above is almost sixteen years old! He is about 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 64 pounds. He is a severe asthmatic and has been in the street for many many years. Abuse at home drove him into the street as a young child and there he remained, fashioning a sort of family for himself out of other street children. We met him at an outreach in his city at Christmas time and we had no space for a new child at the time. To be honest, I was also a little afraid to admit him, although he asked very respectfully. We have met MANY respectful, adorable, endearing children only to discover AFTER admission that they are way too much for us in every way imaginable.
But this child, who can neither read nor write, found me online and had a friend write me a plea to help him.
And then the city social worker formally referred him to us. Whether he asked her to or she just happened to choose him from the scores of street children in their city who need help, we have not quite deciphered. All we know is this child kept coming up in our work and we could not ignore him. We told him the date we would be in his town and he messaged again the day before asking if we were still coming. My heart could barely cope with this kind of hope being placed in us.
He was asking for rescue from a life that was too hard for too long. Sin broke his world and he was asking us to help do some mending.
And, for us, saying "no" would have been sin.
"And to him who knows the good he ought to do and refuses to do it, for him, it is sin"
And just like with all of our children, as they start to trust us a little and they start to open up, we learn details that are crushing.
Our children have been the recipients of some pretty shabby fallout from the sin of others.
And sometimes they have been the ones to injure others.
The challenge for us as a ministry is to seek the Lord daily for wisdom in helping these children "unlearn" the imprinted habits in their minds and focus on living lives that please God rather than self.
Ironically, it's the same challenge we face on a personal level every day. Even as long-time followers of Christ who are educated in His word and know how He calls us to live.
We, as missionaries, are not immune to the effects of this broken world. Much to the contrary, we often feel like weary soldiers trudging uphill with a very heavy pack at the end of a day of fighting.
We are attacked from inside and outside. And sometimes we lash back. Sometimes we fail at loving like Jesus. But when we succeed, we give Him the credit. He works in us as He sees fit.
And in the first sentence of this post, I typed the phrase "there was nothing mankind could do to help itself." That sounds awfully hopeless. But here is where what appears to be bad news is actually good news. The best.
No, we can not free ourselves from the bondage of sin. We can not free other people. We can not stop the cycle of sin in the lives of the children we serve.
BUT JESUS CAN. AND HE DID. AND HE WILL.
The only hope for any of us, on any side of the social justice equation in this sin-sick world is Jesus Christ. Only He can forgive. Only He can restore. Only He can make us whole and fill those empty places in us that we seek to fill with lesser things.
In the light of these truths. We are all on an equal playing field. Pope and missionary and street child and perpetrator. We all need Jesus.
Do you know His forgiveness? Have you been restored? Are you seeking to fill your life with lesser things and wondering why they never satisfy? Only He can truly satisfy your soul.
Sometimes I make the mistake of believing this blog is only read by Believers, firm in their faith. But it dawned on me that I have not shared the gut, core, baseline reason for the work we do here.
It is all about Jesus. His rescue of us from our own sin. His ongoing sanctification of us. His patient forgiveness of our blatant rebellion. His sacrifice that fills us with the hope that we can turn and offer to others.
So, precious reader, if you have any questions about your own place with Him. About your position as forgiven, unforgiven, unrepentant or made new, please PLEASE reach out to someone you know as a trustworthy follower of Christ. Or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask those questions that have plaguing you about your own salvation.
He loves you.
"And THIS is love, not that we love God but that He loved us and sent His son as a payment for our sins". 1 John 4:10