I was came across some old pics of these kids and it made me feel a bit nostalgic.
This is Minerva and Alvaro on an outing with us to the beach, while they were living at the orphanage . I've never seen kids so concerned about each other.
The old house and the new red one in process.
Ramiro and Carmela have grown up so much since these photos.
This promises to be a somewhat rambling post. All kinds of random thoughts flood my mind as I see these little faces, and well, I'm tired. Scary combination.
This is a picture that my friend Amber took. Take a closer look at what the woman in this photo is doing. This is Italia (the kids mom) and she's hand weaving a Huipil.
Broken families, fatherless children, detached mothers....
although these things can appear in any demographic they seem so entwined with this sort of poverty.
I've slowly come to realize that you can't discuss poverty and solutions without going back to the importance of the family unit. God knew what he was doing when he designed it. Most often when this type of poverty is prevalent the weak links are the fathers. Men who should be the pillars of stability, provision and protection., instead become self serving users and abusers.
Sadly it's the men who are typically overlooked by ministries and churches.
There aren't enough loyal and nurturing Dad's around, but I know there are some. They do exists here and they are making a difference.
There are so many cycles.
The kids ultimately pay the price.
and then they repeat the cycle.
We provide band-aid solutions without reaching the festering wounds within.
We build new houses. We hand out food. We put shoes on feet.
We talk in general terms about "social justice".
There are situations where these things are good, needed and helpful...
but they don't really solve anything. They do little to stop a spinning cycle of dysfunction.
Moralistic Deism can conform, but it can't transform.
Zeal and passion can control and manipulate, but it can't transform.
Only the Spirit of God transforms.
Transformed hearts change families.
Transformed families change communities.
Transformed communities change a nation.
Central to this transformation is Jesus command to make disciples.
His primary method of this are vibrant local churches doing what they were designed to do.
Being who they are called to be.
I don't really think we need to re-invent the wheel as much as we just need to get it moving and doing what it was designed to do.
We need to be re-Gospeled and reminded what we have been given. We need to be reminded who we are and what God has done for us in Christ. We forget and then we start adding things to God's grace, and trying to reinvent the greatest news in the universe.
We can't talk about suffering without being firmly planted in the death and resurrection of Christ. Our foundation must be built on the Gospel and the Gospel alone.
Out of that we plant, we serve, we love, and we embrace the broken.
Any other foundation or motivation will crumble.
Out of a well fed, well Gospeled, local church body flows people caring for their neighbors, the orphaned, and the destitute.
Hearts of men are turned toward loving their wives well.
Children are embraced as blessings rather than burdens.
When you know how much love and mercy you have been shown,
that changes how you love and show mercy to others.
Without genuine Love charity becomes merely a pride filled obligation...and gratitude becomes entitlement.
Too often we put the cart before the horse. We see the surface problems and attempt to work from the outside in. The longer I witness poverty and para-church ministries doing what they do (some doing things well, and others complete train wrecks) the more I feel like we're often completely missing the mark.
The thing is, there are things we are called to do. We must be faithful in those things.
What we do is important, but I believe how we do it is even more important.
Then there are things that belong to God. The stuff that's his business.
We must trust the fruit of our obedience to Him.
He alone has the power to save.
He alone breathes life.
He alone redeems, restores, and transforms.
We can rest in that.
We persevere in hope. Even when hearts are cold, and love is merely a vague concept.
Especially in those conditions, because we trust that our sovereign God is strong enough to melt the ice.
Italia had a huge surprise for me this year. I was blown away by her gift of a Triqui huipil. It's woven and stitched completely by hand. I can't even wrap my mind around the cost of time and material. It was hard to accept such an overwhelming gift, but at the same time I was thrilled. It's beautiful and such an honor to own one.
Getting to know this woman has been like ice slowly melting.
Each year we return we see a few more smiles and feel a little more warmth.
I don't know all that much about her life but what I do know about her past, and her current day to day life now I can't help but admire her endurance, and ambition.
It isn't an easy life. I don't understand the choices she makes. I sometimes find myself frustrated by them but
I also haven't had to walk miles a day in her too-small worn out shoes.
Jesus knows each step though,
and this one matters.
Soli Deo Gloria,