Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 8: Trust of a Child

Day 8
Theme: Trust of a child
Passage: Matthew 18:3
Matthew 18:3 (The Message)

2-5For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, "I'm telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you're not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. What's more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it's the same as receiving me.

What is your earliest memory of Childhood? Do you remember the house? Maybe the big station wagon with the rear facing seat? Or possibly yet it is a favorite pet you had for years growing up?

As children we live a very naive life. Life is simple. Our needs are all meet for us. We have food, a bed, clothes, shoes, water… whatever we need I am sure you had those things for the most part.

How about your memory of your family? Some of you might say loving. Others it may have been happy. Still others it could be the word close.

Now remember the first time that your childhood naivety was stripped away. What happened? How old were you? Was it at the age of 9 when you realized that your dad really couldn’t beat up all the neighbor kids’ dad? Or maybe it was when your parents split up? Or still maybe it was at the age of 2 being left at a home.
Did you catch that…? Left at the age of 2.

Imagine with me, you’re at home with your family. You know you’re not rich but you’re loved. Well, one day your mom says “Pedro, let’s go to the zoo and see the animals”. You have never been but you’re so excited. You stop off and get some candy at the Petro station and then you and your mom get on a bus. When the bus stops and mom says its time to get out you look and find you’re at a house. “Where’s the Zoo?” you ask. But mom, who you trust, says that you just have to stop off here and then you’ll get to go to the zoo. But before you know it, mom sends you over to play with the kids while ‘The grown-ups talk’ and that is the last time you see her for months and sometimes years.

Your birthday’s go by and are not remembered. Holiday’s come and go, but still nothing. Your heart is ripped into shreds and you grow hard.

R. B. Mitchell in his book Castaway Kid gives words to his earliest memories as an orphan:

Dim, Fuzzy Images form most of my early childhood memories. But one is clear and sharp.

Fear burned it permanently on my three-year-old brain.

Mother and I are standing in front of a large building. Piles of snow line the sidewalk.

“C’mon Robby,” Mother says as she drags me up the steps to the front door. “They’re waiting for us.”

Soon we’re staying in a strange bedroom. I don’t know why? Eerie sounds and shadows keep me whimpering when I wake during the night. Mother shushes me.

A Loud bell rings and wakes us up. The sun is shinning and the scary shadows have disappeared. Unfamiliar sounds from last night change to running feet and laughter.
We eat breakfast in a big room with lots of kids, but they don’t seem to see us. When we finish, Mother takes me upstairs. A Nameless lady in a long, dark dress meets us.

“Why don’t you go over there and play?” she says, pointing to a corner where a boy stacks building blocks.

I don’t move.

“Do what she says, Robby!” Mother orders.

Clinging to Mother’s leg, I hesitate. She brushes my hand away, grabs my arm, and drags me to the play area. She plops me on the floor, facing the boy with my back to her.

I reach for a block, but the kid grabs it. When he begins to scoop the other toys away from me, I turn to complain.

Only the strange lady is standing there.

Mother is gone. 1

In America we call this the School of hard knocks and try to say “It’s good for you. It will change your life.” For a young child, sometimes under the age of 4, it does change them. They become hard hearted. They learn to hate, to bully, to manipulate. They get into trouble and fail at school, all because they want to be loved.

Jesus loves these children. Jesus adores these children. And Jesus’ heart breaks every time one of these kids has to grow up.

But today’s lesson isn’t just about the hurt and desolation. It is about HOPE. One of the organizations that Good2Go works with is Back2Back ministries. They exist “To provide Care for today and HOPE for tomorrow.” They do this by LOVING these children.

These groups are teaching the children everyday about God’s love for them and little by little it breaks through. Listen to this story by Greg Huffer a Back2Back staff member in Mexico.

One of the most powerful and exciting things to behold is the testimony of a changed life in the hands of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we talk a great deal about how Jesus is in the business of changing people, but we all know it is one thing to say that we are changed and quite another to demonstrate change with the actions of our lives.

In all of the homes we serve, we trust that God is changing the lives of the children we work with, even when it is not easily visible. But every once in a while, we are blessed with a glimpse of the divine work that is taking place and we see a clear manifestation of Jesus-induced change! At the Manantial de Amor (MDA) girl’s home, I saw one of these changes that Jesus is making in the lives of one of the girls that live there. (In the following story I’ve changed the names of the girls to protect their identity.)

Not too long ago, a girl named Laura came from a government-run children’s home to live at the MDA girl’s home. She found herself sharing a bedroom with eight other teenage girls who already had developed sister-like bonds with one another- intimidating for sure! Laura, as many troubled teens do when they are uncomfortable, lashed out and much of her aggression was directed to one girl in particular, a girl named Susie. For several weeks, the two lived in tension with one another, with conflicts and arguments every day. Then, one day it all came to a head on Susie’s birthday!

Susie had received some money from supporters in the United States for her birthday with which she had purchased some gifts. Things had seemed to have improved between Laura and Susie for a couple weeks and the house was a much nicer place for all.
One day while Susie was away, Laura found where Susie had hidden the rest of her birthday money and stole it along with the gifts that Susie had already purchased. Then she ran away from the children’s home. She got into some minor trouble with a police officer and when he asked her where she lived so he could return her, she told him that she lived at the government run children’s home in the area, the very home from which she had come to MDA.

The caregivers were surprised to see her back there, but took her in and contacted Edgar, the director of MDA. As the story unfolded, I can only imagine the fear and hard-heartedness that must have been welling up inside Laura. The director for the government home sternly told Edgar that he needed to confront and discipline Laura with strong and severe consequences. This was all that would get through to a child like Laura.

Edgar replied, “No we don’t do that here. We have another approach. We are going to love her.”

Edgar brought Laura back to the MDA girl’s home that day. I wonder how slowly Laura walked from the car to the front door. What was she thinking? What was she feeling? What reaction would Susie show her when their eyes met? I guarantee that whatever she was expecting, it was nothing like what really happened.

Susie came to Laura and hugged her and told her that she was glad she was back. Clearly, she could see the fear and confusion in Laura’s eyes, wondering where the expected retribution was.

Susie took Laura aside and told her, “Laura, I don’t care about the gifts. I don’t care if I get those back or not. YOU are what is important! YOU are so much more important than all of those things combined!”

This is what excites me about Back2Back! I love seeing the change that is taking place before our very eyes in the lives of children like Susie. Sometimes it can be hard to see, but other times, heaven breaks through in glorious moments like these! It is through the love of Jesus that Edgar and others have shown Susie over the years at MDA, that she has changed. And hopefully, prayerfully, it is through the love and mercy of girls like Susie, that Laura and others like her will be changed as well! 2

So how do we help reach a child like this? You don’t always, but God will use you to make a deposit.

Naomi and I are painting our nails again on the steps of the old stone chapel. It is the fourth coat of red for each of us. It is something we can do together without talking, and we like being together. I already know her favorite color (red), her age (twelve), and her name. The only thing left in my Spanish repertoire is the Four Spiritual Laws. It’s a hot August afternoon, and we have nothing but time on our hands. Just do it already Beth!

“Naomi,” I start. She looks up from my nails, curious. “DO you know Law One? That God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?”

She just shrugs her shoulders, and gives me a look that is part smirk, part annoyance, like she knows something I don’t and not the other way around.

I quickly go back to painting her nails and pray to God for another shot.

Although the law is completely true, in the face of her circumstances, it will take some convincing. I realize after spending an entire week with orphans is going to be much more involved then I anticipated.

In our U.S. Culture of pulled-up bootstraps and endless American-dreams stories, it’s easy to believe that the wonderful plan for our lives, I realize now more than ever that it’s more about what happens internally due to our involvement with him than a change in our circumstances. 3

Where is the end, you might ask! Not all these stories end in a picturesque style. We may eventually see the deposits pay off, or we have to wait until Eternity to see what the end looks like.

What does trust mean to you?

Are you hurting? Are you finding yourself like one of these children who have a tough time trusting others?

Is today the day to give it all to God?

Are you ready to be a DEPOSIT and not a solution?

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