Yesterday in Chiminisijuan in our line of children receiving milk from the nutrition program (we weigh each baby every 2 weeks) was a little boy whom I had never seen. His mom handed me her newborn first who was fat and healthy and then she laid her 19 month-old on the scale. He was severely malnourished with edematous hands and feet and the skin hanging off of the rest of him. He just laid on the scale without a fight - lethargic from a lack of food. Upon questioning, his mom told me that he would eat beans when they had them but mostly they just gave him coffee. Giving coffee to very young children is cultural - it is weak, warm and full of sugar - I often see it in baby bottles. She had the saddest eyes as she told me that she has 7 children and a husband who is drunk all the time. They are buying their corn which is an indication that they don't have enough to eat - all of their money goes to buy corn to make tortillas - which is their most important food. Armando began to talk with her about the Lord, asking her if she went to church. She said that she had in the past but her always drunk husband was an embarrassment to her. Armando included her two older children in the conversation and when he asked them if they wanted to accept the Lord again, the little boy said, "Do it mom, do it!" So all of them together repeated the prayer of salvation. The little boy, Pedro, said that he could read, so we gave them a Bible which he proudly tucked under his arm, with instructions to start in the book of John and read to his family each day.
I have struggled to find a way to make the God that I know...a God who is so faithful and kind to me - relevant to people who never have a moment of joy, who watch their children go to bed hungry, who are beaten down by their desperate struggle to stay alive. How do I talk to them about a God who loves them and cares for them when their circumstances shout otherwise? These are questions that I have asked the Lord since our arrival here and while to this day, my understanding is very small, I am beginning to understand that He is our judge. Not a judge who is ready to condemn (although we may eventually see that side of him), but a judge who is our advocate; a judge who sees and will bring justice where there is injustice. So we talk to people about this characteristic of our God; about how He is watching and waiting to bring justice to those who put their trust in Him. We talk with them about the judgment that awaits those who hurt his children, and we talk with them about the hell that awaits those who mistreat his chosen ones. We talk with them about the need to pray for those who hurt them, knowing that this will bring freedom from the bitterness that grows out of unforgiveness. And we encourage them that even though their outward circumstances may not - and probably won't immediately change, that they become part of a community who will stand with them in prayer - that they are no longer alone. So would you pray for this family? Would you pray that Fermanina's husband would be freed from the bondage of alcoholism and that his eyes would be opened to the salvation that Jesus brings? Would you pray that he would begin to be the father and husband that this family needs? And would you pray that little Domingo would live and not die?
"Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady to knees that give way
say to those with fearful hearts,
"Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you." Isaiah 35:3-4