Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Breakthrough: Light shining in the Darkness of Guatemala

On March 8th, a fire was started at a government shelter that ended up taking the lives of 40 young girls and has come to dramatically impact the lives of thousands more. Out of this crisis, our director and my personal mentor, has now become the deputy secretary of the government department responsible for child protection services in Guatemala. Out of this crisis, we received 6 children who lived at this government home. For many years the government has been answering questions that no one is asking and ignoring children that no one else in society has had the privilege to see. The response to this crisis has provoked a tidal wave of solidarity and sympathy in Guatemala that has the population in an uproar.

A month ago, I wrote about praying and fasting for a breakthrough saying that I honestly had no idea what the breakthrough was or if it even had anything to do with me. While I would never presume that my role in the kingdom of God is so significant or central, the recent events that have taken place in Guatemala have taken my faith to a deeper level. Birthed in a fatal fire in the heart of the government's children home, the walls of this fortress were literally broken through. A well guarded stronghold where judges, diplomats and authorities were denied entry suddenly received a presidential order to be vacated and closed, never again to be used for child care. At Casa Bernabe, the 6 kids that were transferred out of this shelter were presented to the Casa Bernabe family as we prayed over and blessed them. There is a spirit of gratitude that is so tangible in these kids. They are grateful for the attention, the food, the space, the structure and for the fact that they now belong. 

I sat one of these new boys down the other day and told him that he was safe and that we were here to protect him and be a family to him for as long as he needs us. As I reflected on these kids in this moment I was confronted by the poverty of my own memory, that this transfer is precisely what happened to me at a specific point in my own life. Certainly, I was once a prisoner in the kingdom of darkness and was instantly brought into the kingdom of light. I can remember the sense of freedom in my soul when I received God's healing in my life and gratitude was the only natural response. I was so aware of this contrast between darkness and light. Between orphan and adopted. Stranger and son. 

The events that recently took place in Guatemala with the death of these girls and displacement of hundreds more has brought my faith to a much deeper, more organic and raw level. I am painfully aware that this story being authored by a sovereign God is so much bigger than our own personal and corporate kingdoms that we idolize and so passionately fight for. This breakthrough in Guatemala has come to break through different parts of my own heart and identity, subtly whispering to me that I was the boy rescued from jail and brought into freedom. I am the confused child that longs for protection and comfort but reflexively puts up walls and facades to make it appear that I am just fine on my own. I am the one who so often acts our of shame and pain, pretending that I prefer it this way. God has used tragedy to provoke a tidal wave of compassion and benevolence and while these responses are Godly and necessary, God is wanting more. He is wanting His children to remember that they are the salt and light, however to be quite mindful that at one time they were unquestionably not. God wants groups of His followers (ekklesias) to raise up and respond to the brokenness and despair, not in heartfelt messages on facebook, but with preconceived  and legitimate commitments to be present in the darkness. Those of us who work in orphan care before, during and after the different crises so desperately need the church. We need more extensions of God's grace and ambassadors of His presence. I pray that this tidal wave of generosity would effectively meet the immediate needs, but would also transcend and transform into lasting pools of healing and Christ-like interventions. It is in the darkness that the light is most needed. Guatemala has just exposed one of its darkest spots, and I pray that the light would shine not only as a fleeting flicker in response to the crisis, but as a lasting beam of life. 

 

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