For this update I wanted to share a powerful story with you written by our missionary Bill Tidsbury that gives a realistic yet hope filled look into life in the Nueva Vida community where we work. I encourage you to take the time to read this and reflect on some of the questions he asks at the end. Blessings and peace to each of you. Love, Kara
I thought I would give each of you a snapshot of one of the families that I am currently working with so you can pray with me as to how our Daddy God wants to release grace to them in their situation. All the details are true and related just to this one family - surprising as it may seem!
I first met this family when 3 of them were walking with bags of recyclable things to take to one of the shops that buy glass and bits of metal and plastic. Their ages are 20, 18 and 17 - 2 young women and one male. He was high from glue sniffing. They were all dirty, from the smoke and dirt of the dump and hungry. What they had to sell for the days work was worth about 3 dollars. I bought them some food - and so opened up a relationship.
A couple of weeks later I met one of the gals - as an appointment from God. She had been hit and bruised by her father and had gone with her 2 little girls (age 1 and 3) to stay with her mom. Her mom refused her. She was crying because she had no where to stay and a young woman sleeping on the street is very dangerous in this community. She would probably be raped. Our ministry has built an emergency room next to our ministry center for people like this so I was able to arrange a place for her to stay. She stayed with us for about a week but was creating problems with the family because she kept sneaking glue in to sniff. She returned to stay with her father as by this time her mother was back at home.
I have since chatted with all the family. They all have addictions issues and live off of scavenging in the dump. We had some money to buy some roofing so I bought 4 sheets of roofing to help with a leaking roof of one of the gals (who has one child - age about 2).
Unfortunately, the daughter who received the roofing was feeling very low - so she sold the roofing to her father in order to go and get drunk. The positive part was that the roofing stayed in the family - they all have need - but unfortunately the house stayed leaky!
During another visit the mother of the two children had been drinking and had gotten to shouting to a neighbor over an offense - they loosed their dogs on her and the result was that both of the backs of her legs got chewed up by the dogs and she was punched twice in the face and left with a black eye and bloody lacerated mouth.
The mother keeps getting drunk and hanging out flirting with other men. This makes her partner furious and so he assaults her. She then moves out and leaves him for a week or so. He feels remorse and wants to change but they all are caught in their addictions.
I chose to risk a 400 Cordoba ( $12 USD) loan to each of the women - in spite of their addictions to seek to help them begin changing their way of thinking and begin speaking hope into their lives. This gives me a chance to be visiting and chatting with them about mind change, habit change and the grace of God. The one gal was shocked that I would consider her for a loan after she had sold off the zinc roofing - she had actually grabbed a hold of her courage to confess to me what she had done. I spoke to her of the grace of God - he works with us and draws us into His kingdom.
I have been able to introduce a local Christian lady who used to work in the dump to the 2 gals and she has been visiting them as a peer and trying to encourage them- speaking life over them. I am beginning the process of sitting down with the father to help him understand his own life and his resistance to yielding his life to God. (Many down here are reluctant because they don’t feel worthy. They see themselves as very weak and prone to sin - so it would be disrespectful to try when you know you can’t succeed - it is seen as trying to take advantage of God). He is longing for change, sorrowful over his violence, but full of anger and depression. This is true of each of the two daughters.
Of the 3 loans, there has been one payment out of 6 owing up to this point. Yet the goal is not so much the money as to the life and thinking change that the loan provides. They are always glad to see me and are quick to start unloading about their heart pain and need for peace and solutions. They re-assure me that their desire and intention is to pay the loan back - it is just that survival gets in the way - and the addictions! Their despair is palpable and so is there hunger to be prayed for to feel some sense of the grace of a good God. I become an island in their storm.
The partner of the gal with the one child was just assaulted last night - probably as a result of an argument after drinking and was chopped with a machete on the back of his arm, his back and the back of his leg. He got stitched up and has not lost any limbs.
The young man is often hungry and most days is quite out of it from glue sniffing.
Why do I share what appears to be a soap opera?
It raises questions - do I , do we, believe in redemption? Do we believe that love wins over darkness? Do we believe that people love the horror of their lives or that they are taken captive by an enemy? Are we not the ones who are called to proclaim freedom to prisoners?
How do I get in the dust and grittiness of life to bring hope into a dark and deeply wounded family? How many times do you forgive bad decisions? Do you cut people off because they keep failing? Is it a waste of money if some money gets used for alcohol but some also feeds a hungry child?
I could go on with many questions!! I will leave it with you to pray about and think - what would you do with this family? (There is very little access to social services and their life is relatively normal for many).
What is our faithful God’s solution to this brokenness?
This is when we need our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.