As my staff member Bobbie and I returned from our teaching trip to Guatemala there are many questions that beg to be answered. As I have had some time to process our time in Monjas, Jalapa at a girls home called “Shadow of His Wings,” I continue to hear some questions inside of me.
I hear the questions from those whose thinking is more from a “world view”: “How many people took you seriously? How much did you accomplish? Can you show some results?” I could say that many people seemed to take us seriously. The staff, the house parents, the girls themselves. We worked hard and accomplished a great deal. The participants told us they are already using the skills we taught them. So that gives us a great sense of reward. Can I show some results? Hmmmm. I suppose if you look at the evaluations we took at the end you might see their comments. But neither of us can read Spanish so we need someone to translate. Okay. Enough said about that.
At “Shadow of His Wings” the girls have each been appointed by the court system to live there because they have been rejected, abandoned, and physically or sexually abused. They have been lost to the streets or sold for profit. In some cases in Guatemala, if a girl 12 years or older has been raped, the judge will drop the charges if the perpetrator offers the marry the victim.Children are allowed at any age to have a say in returning to their homes. The decision is made in the presence of a team that includes their perpetrator, a judge, a social worker, and court representative. Many of them enter this process longing to stay where they are now safe and part of a “family.” However, once in the presence of this team, she falls back into that state of fear that she came from and says whatever she believes her perpetrator or judge wants her to say.
Most importantly, I hear the question of the Shepherd. “Did you show them the love of the incarnate Jesus?” That is the best question to ask if you are in Guatemala or in your back yard. Because those of us who call ourselves “Christ followers” must come to understand that we are beginning to really “get it” when we realize that in a world of lonliness and despair there is an enormous need for men and women and children to know the heart of God. A heart that forgives, cares, reaches out, and wants to heal any person who is willing to be healed. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred. It is a heart that only wants to give love and receive it in response. It is a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the very heart that wants to offer consolation and hope.
We were only taken seriously, accomplished much, and were able to show results if we were able to grasp the heart of God. If our hearts were moved to become “hearts of flesh” while we were there then yes, those things were accomplished. Knowing God’s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely announcing and revealing that God is love…and only love. It is to tell those who are wounded that every time fear and isolation or despair begins to invade the human soul, it is not something that comes from God.
That sounds very simple and trite to many of you who are reading. But there are very few people in the world who know that they are loved without conditions or limits. The unconditional and unlimited love is what the apostle John calls God’s first love. “Let us love,” he says, “because God loved us first” (I John 4:19) When we begin to know the heart of Jesus we cannot do other than want to bring healing, reconciliation, new life, and hope wherever we go. The desire to be relevant and successful will gradually become secondary and our goal is to tell whoever we can that they are loved by God.
There was and continues to be another question I hear. It is the ongoing question of the children in Guatemala. It is echoed by the children who have been placed at “Shadow of His Wings” as well as in most other places in the country. Their question is: “Will you love me?” Our answer is……yes.