Tonight I will share one story from my past, but it’s a very important one that I think speaks so clearly to everything that is important to me, everything I believe to be true. I offer up a prayer for those who feel trapped in the negative things this world will try to convince you are truth. We live in a world full of hurt and pain and I pray that you will find a way to look past that pain to see your true purpose on this Earth. You are loved, so I pray you will find value in that and start pursuing a deeper meaning for why you are here.
Several years ago I was sent on my first mission trip, and boy was I ready to show those less fortunate than myself how awesome I could be. I had no idea what a mission trip was even about, but I had my ideas. I was ready to sacrifice my broken body to show love to others, but I was not prepared to be broken apart in so many ways so that Jesus could show me exactly who I was created to be, who I needed to be.
This first trip to Guatemala has so many wonderful memories I could share with you, and in time I will. For now I want to focus on one particular story that took place, took root in my heart and one I will never forget. We traveled to a small village just outside of Guatemala City to stay in an orphanage called Nuevo Reto (New Challenge), and looking back it’s easy to see now I went to put another notch in my tool belt, to show people I was a real Christian. I could build walls, I could dig ditches, I could do the work they were not able to do. What I didn’t expect to happen was to fall in love with two people, two people who both showed me what love is really about. The first was a tiny baby girl named Abigail. She was lying in her crib just outside the kitchen when our eyes first met, and there was something I can’t really explain to anyone else who wasn’t there that drew me close to her. I do know that everyone who was there saw and felt the same thing. We all spent time fighting with one another to be the next one to hold her, we needed to hold her, to love her. What we didn’t realize is she needed us to see the love she had brought into this world. Her mother was a selfless woman, she spent her days cleaning up after all of us, helping in the kitchen, and I am convinced that if Jesus were to come back today and show me humility, her face would be the one he would show me. Looking back now I am not sure we ever spoke two words to one another, you see I do not speak Spanish, and she did not speak English, so our communication was based on eye contact and smiles. We spent the week trying to help her the way we knew how to help. We watched her mop the floors of the orphanage with a towel wrapped around an old dust broom, so some of the group bought her a brand new mop and bucket from Walmart (yes they’re even in Guatemala). She showed gratitude and washed the floors with it, once, the next day we found her back in her groove with the old dust broom and towel. She had a wrap she used to hold Abigail close to her, but many of us didn’t think that was safe and weren’t sure it really held the baby in a securely. So we did what any good gringo would do, we bought her a baby carrier and then showed her how it worked and strapped her baby into it. She used it when we had her little angel locked in it, once, but again the next day we found her back to her old comfortable ways with the baby in the makeshift sling. Why do we spend so much time trying to change people to our way of life, rather than letting go of what we know and diving into the life of another? We really gave no attention to the fact that this was working for her, because I think all of us can now admit we were there to teach them how to be an American, to show them how it worked for us, rather than learn how it worked for them. But all of us still fought for the love and affection of a tiny baby, none of us knowing what was in store for us at week’s end.
This is the part of the story that’s hard for me to share without tears in my eyes, okay it’s impossible. Pastor Jacobo (pictured above holding Abigail) sat us all down on the last night we were there, to go over the week, to speak of progress we made, but he never warned us our hearts were about to be torn from our chests. After praising our efforts and thanking us for our work, he shared a story with us about the one we all loved so much…Abigail. He told us more about the woman we had all tried to change all week by what we thought was help. He told us of the night she was walking home from her tireless hours she spent caring for everyone but herself. She left the orphanage and walked home, and on the way passed by some drunken men, a scene I am sure played out more times than not in her world, but tonight would be different, life altering different. That night this lovely small Guatemalan woman was ripped from her secure pattern of life and was raped. I am sorry if that is hard to hear, believe me it wrecked me when I heard it. Then it happened, the moment when true love was opened in a new light in front of our very eyes. You see the reason he shared this story is because Abigail, the little baby we had all battled to love throughout the week, was the evidence of that fateful night. I sat there numb to emotion for quite a while, this beautiful little girl that all of us could see was so worthy of our love, came from one of the darkest moments in her sweet mother’s life! I am not here to justify what happened or even explain why the mother made the choices she did, the heart wrenching decisions she needed to make, in order for Abigail to breathe her first breath. What I am here to say is that God can do amazing things through amazing pain, and I cannot possibly fathom what that was like for her, all I can do is try to explain what it did for me. All I had seen in this child was beauty, and in an instant she became the face of one of my favorite songs…Amazing Grace. Her mother was abused, she was probably often told she held no value or worth in this world, but nothing could be further from the truth. She was beautiful, and from her came innocence and new life. I don’t know if I would have the courage to follow the same path if I had to face such a thing, but I do know that Abigail is here for great things. I know she has already shown me great things.
We can’t ever understand all the things that came to be to bring us into this world. How a split second decision, if done differently, would have changed our very existence in this world. I do not know why this happened to this mother, but I do know the redemption that came from it. So why now, why this story, why today? Because I read another story of similar circumstances, and it brought me straight back to those tearful moments when I first learned how Abigail entered the world. I will leave you with that tonight, you can chose to read it or not.
The one thing I do know is that God can show his unfailing love to you regardless of whatever this world has done to you. Did that mother love her child, 100% yes! Did we all love her before even before we knew anything about her, 100% yes! Did any of us stop loving her after we heard her painful story, 100% no. I hope and pray you who are reading this can see the glory that came from a very painful moment in the mother’s life. I am sure some will want to know, do I believe God allowed this to happen? No. God doesn’t create the tragedies that happen in this world, but he does heal the pain that comes from it. Why did it happen, that I do not know, but one day I will, and I am okay waiting for that day, when all the mysteries of this life are laid before me and I can see how they all worked towards the good of me, of all men and women. Until then, I will simply trust that God will show me amazing love, even in the darkest of times.