Everywhere, Among Everyone
Every once in while I have a day where I wonder how I got to this place, thinking on what a privilege it is to know my friends here and see God at work among them. Saturday was one of those days. As I was going to bed that night, Acts 10:34-36 came to mind…
“It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone."
Saturday allowed me to see those truths in action firsthand when Charlotte, the Girls’ Program Director, and I spent the day visiting the ladies’ homes. It’s been one thing to spend everyday with the girls at Peace House, having conversations, working side-by-side, and studying God’s word together. However, being in their homes, meeting their families, and hearing stories over meals they had prepared was an entirely new level of friendship building.
The girls often ask why it feels like God has snubbed them, why they are the ones who are poor or suffering, why they are the ones who have to work so hard to get by while people in America appear to be blessed. It’s always a difficult conversation. It’s easy for me - a person who’s never wanted for food, slept on a dirt floor, or had to walk further than down the hall to get clean water – to respond by saying God loves and desires to bless all people equally. It’s hard for my friends here to accept that. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world. One where people aren’t treated fairly and life appears to be “more blessed” for some than others.
To be honest, I’ve wrestled a lot with questions over the last few weeks. Why on top of everything else does Eve have a son with mental and physical handicaps? Why did Dorcas begin prostitution at the age of 10 because she felt it was her only chance of survival? Why is Esther so traumatized that sometimes she can’t stop her hands from shaking? I still don’t understand it all, and I certainly don’t like how this broken world treats people.
What I do know is what Peter declared in those verses from Acts…God plays no favorites, even when the world appears to. Through Jesus things are being put back together again, so even in this broken and hurting world, there is hope. And He’s doing it everywhere, among everyone – people here and people wherever you are.
God has not forgotten these girls. And He has not forgotten you.
Over and over again on Saturday, God reminded me of these truths as we visited the girls’ homes.
Dorcas’s mother shared about the years that her daughter disappeared for days at a time and how as a teenager would bite her when she was angry. As we sat there, Dorcas laid her head on her mother’s shoulder, and they spoke of how these days the two of them advise one another and work together to help the family survive.
Beatha beamed when we walked into her 2-room home that was about the size of my SUV. She went on and on about how beautiful it was and how happy she was to have a place for she and her daughter to live, even if it was without electricity and the bathroom was a graveyard. Her depth of contentment and joy runs deeper than anyone I’ve ever met.
Josie, single and living alone, shared how she’d been able to save enough money to open a bank account recently and then told us she dreamed of owning her own business one day. People here don’t dream. That’s a privilege reserved for those who have security and who don’t worry about day-to-day needs. Josie’s figured out how to dream of a better life.
After sleeping in a bar and under some mango trees, Josiane recently moved into a small home of her own, away from the people and ghosts of her past. Every once in a while, she still has dreams about being tormented by demons, and it’s a daily struggle for her to trust in Jesus’s promise that His way of life is good. She pinned papers on her walls with statements about what Jesus has done in her life and what the Bible says. She had even drawn a picture of thorny soil and written that she didn’t want be that.
Esther, the quiet, nervous one without any family, was all smiles and laughter. The children in her compound followed her around and sought her help with everything. I learned that people now believe her to be the best advice giver and seek her out for help, just like the children.
Eve loved her children so well. For a woman who has been cheated and mistreated by those who claimed to “love” her, she still has a heart full of love to give her twin sons and patience for the one who will never be able to walk or talk.
In every home, even without the girls or their families having to say so, it was easy to see the transformation in their lives. They want God and are ready to do as He says. In this broken world, they have found Jesus, the one who is putting them and their families back together again. God has blessed them abundantly.