Monday, April 22, 2013

In the den

I love being a missionary but sometimes I  find being a missionary very difficult.  Every day, you wake up not knowing what to expect.  Most days are great but you know at any moment tragedy can strike.  Just in the last few months, the son of one of our beloved staff members was killed because he refused to pay the “war tax” the gang demanded.   He left a wife and young children.  The mother of 2 of our children was brutally murdered in a drug related incident.   Children’s Court returned one of our toddlers, Scarlett, to live in abject poverty with her grandmother.  Holding a grieving mother,  explaining to a 3 year old why her mother isn’t waking up, seeing Scarlett’s  empty bed,  is heart wrenching.  Sometimes I feel like I have been tossed into the lion’s den like Daniel was.  The lions circle, showing their teeth, roaring.  I feel so vulnerable and helpless.  Am I wasting my time and energy? What can I possibly accomplish in the magnitude of this pain and suffering?   

That’s when, in the tender compassion of our Lord, I remember what happened in that lion’s den.  Or, more precisely, what didn’t happen.    Daniel was not consumed by the lions.  In fact, he went into the den full of courage and grace, fully trusting in the Lord.   Our Lord is faithful and surrounded him with angels, taming the lions, so Daniel could live another day to glorify the Lord.    As I bumble through each day in Honduras, there is no doubt in my mind I am surrounded some very busy guardian angels!    I have never felt unsafe.  Make no mistake, there are still lions out there and they would love to get a hold of me and anyone else serving the Risen Lord.  But like Daniel, we must step out in faith.   The darkest times are always followed by joy.  For me, sometimes it is an unexpected text message telling me that I am loved with a bit of Scripture.  Or the privilege of seeing a group impoverished people receive their first loans in our micro-credit program.   Or standing up for 9 confirmands at our Children’s Home reaffirming their commitment to God.   My soul is restored and I am ready to follow the path he set out for me.  It actually doesn’t take much to bring joy to someone. A few moments telling a friend you love them, $500 to change the lives of 5 new business owners and their families, a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s precious lambs. 

I am most inspired by our Honduran staff.   Their faith is so deep, their trust in the Lord so solid.  LAMB operates on a shoe string.    We are short staffed so everyone is doing more than a full time job.   There is no extra money for programs, emergency aid, or badly needed new ministries.      Most of our staff only receive minimum wage, about $350 a month.  And yet, they do so much.   Gabriel, director of our micro-credit program, works 60 hours a week.  Then he volunteers as a group leader in our Alonzo Movement for at risk youth.  And he has organized  25 young men in his neighborhood into a soccer team – getting them off drugs, off alcohol, and away from gangs.  Suzy and our staff just rescued Elvira, a deaf, mute woman whose 5 children live in our Children’s Home.  She was recently raped, unable to defend herself or even report the assault.   David, our Executive Director, provided guidance to the staff in the event the gangs demand war tax from us.  His direction?  “We will love them and trust God  to protect us.”   

In Honduras we don’t have all the financial or emotional  resources we need to handle the responsibilities and challenges we face daily.  Gabriel needs soccer uniforms for his neighborhood team, Elvira is in a private psychiatric hospital that we can’t afford .  Our staff must care for hundreds of children in our programs.   We steel ourselves for the next tragedy.   And yet, every day we step into the lion’s den with joy and thanksgiving.  As it says in the book of Daniel:

For he is the living God,
enduring forever.
His kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion has no end.
He delivers and rescues,
he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
for he has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions."

He saves us as well and we live to glorify God another day.  Amen