Road Race in Las Mangas [Photos]

This past Saturday we went as a family to our mentors’ and dear friends’ home up in the mountains for their annual 2-mile road race that they host in their local community. In Honduras, the schools generally do not have track teams nor are there a lot of sporting events (or sports) or really any opportunities to train physically beyond a pick-up game of soccer on a dirt field, so an organized 2-mile road race really is a big event.

Our mentor/pastor/friend Larry came in first place with a time of 11:23, and Darwin came in fourth place with a time of 12:55. Our 11-year-old daughter Gleny surprised us by deciding to participate, and she came in third place among the women who ran!

Sharing God’s Word with the racers before the competition



When I told Darwin to “strike a pose” before the event, he certainly did!


Our dear friend/mentor/pastor Allison taking the official film of the event with her and Larry’s daughter Eliya strapped on her back


Our 7-year-old special needs son Josue running his own race as he accompanied me to one end of the “track” to wait for the runners to arrive


Our mentor/pastor/friend Larry coming in first place among men who are 20-30 years younger than him!


Darwin coming in fourth place before guys who are 10-15 years younger than him! Go, Darwin, go!


Bayron (age 21) and Erick (26), members of our faith community, finishing in 7th and 8th place


Gleny ran the whole 2-mile race without stopping and finished after 21 minutes!


The kids’ 7-and-under 100m race


15-year-old Danny and 32-year-old Darwin, who stuck neck-and-neck throughout the race until Darwin pulled ahead at the end and beat him by 8 seconds!




Darwin and Gleny, the two racers from our family!


Gleny with the other female competitors


Darwin and Larry after the race


Larry with the young man who came in second place


Gleny receiving her third-place medal


maraton33 maraton47

Larry and Allison with two of their three daughters


The Great Sex Education Round-Up

Last Thursday I bumped and jumbled along the rocky roads of our little town with one goal in mind: finding young women whom I would convince to attend our first sex education class.

Sure, I had posted flyers all over town during the several weeks leading up to the event – in the local grocery store, at the bus stop, outside of several little corner stores, at the local nurse’s clinic, etc — and even went walking house to house, visiting roughly 40 houses personally to make the invitation to the event, but, in Honduras, very few people will take the initiative to attend unless they are cornered and cajoled into doing so at the last minute possible, even if attending might save them from a lifetime of ignorance, suffering, and unwanted pregnancies.

So, playing by Honduran rules, at 9:00am, exactly one hour before the event was scheduled to start, I mounted our 2001 cab-and-a-half truck, rolled the windows down, and went to search the streets for the same young women who had probably seen my flyers everywhere and had even received a face-to-face invitation but for whatever reason would not make the effort to come on their own.

My husband Darwin accompanied me and, literally, when I spotted a group of three teenage girls whom I had never seen before in my life standing idly along the main road of our town, I shouted excitedly to no one in particular, “Teenage girls!”, convinced God had put them there for me to find them, put the car in park in the middle of the gravel road, and ran over to invite them to the event that was about to start in less than 45 minutes. Of course they were surprised, but their mom – who happened to be sitting nearby — urged them to go, so they ran in their house, combed their hair and put on skirts, and hopped in our truckbed as I promised the mother to return them to her in roughly three hours.

That was basically how the round-up went, and by the time we drove in through our front gate at 9:55am, there were 16 young women between the ages of 10-32 who were sitting around me in chairs, on a sofa, and on a couple wooden benches under the shade of our porch. Three of them had received a house-visit invitation the day prior and took the initiative to walk up the long, solitary road to our home while the rest were found and brought via my Toyota street-search during the hour before the class was to begin.

Although I was nervous at first, my voice and dry erase marker shaky as all 16 pairs of eyes were on me to explain what most parents here shy away from teaching their own daughters (or simply don’t have the knowledge to do so even if they wanted to), we ended up persevering through a wonderfully rich teaching-discussion of two hours as we discussed both the scientific and emotional/relational/spiritual aspects of sex, menstruation (most women here literally do not know what menstruation is or what it signals even if they have been menstruating their whole adult life), masturbation, men, birth control, pregnancy, virginity and the loss thereof, menopause, and the different stages of life and what they imply.

Towards the end of the discussion, a beautiful 15-year-old asked innocently, laughing self-consciously, “This might be a silly question, but…men can’t get pregnant, then, right?” Pointing toward my drawings of the male and female reproductive systems on the white board in front of us that we had discussed in detail, she said, “I mean, they don’t have the parts…”

Another young woman, at the beginning of the class as I was preparing to draw the illustrations on the board, asked innocently what a vagina is and where it is found. When I explained it to her, her eyes grew wide.

Luckily, these young women are still in school and have not gotten pregnant yet, but many more like them who are only 12- and 13-years old in our neighborhood are already sexually active, and some have already given birth to a child they never were prepared to take care of. In attendance were two single moms: a 21-year-old and a 32-year-old, both of which admitted to having their eyes opened during our two-hour class to many basic details about their body, men, etc, that had previously been mysteries to them even after having travelled the hard road of experience.

For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. — Romans 7:2-3

At the end of the meeting we all stood, hand-in-hand, and prayed both for men in general – for strength in their temptations, for their purity, and for our wise and supportive interactions with them – and for us women. Before I drove everyone home, many of the women suggested doing a brainstorm on the white board of future teachings they would like us to organize, including dating, the good/bad uses of technology, and forgiveness/healing, among others.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. — Proverbs 31:30

After about a year-and-a-half or two of sensing that Biblically-based sexual education was something the Lord wanted us to become involved in (rather than merely rescuing unwanted children — the products — of sexual sin and ignorance), we finally took the big first step, which tends to make the steps that follow more forthcoming. Please pray for us in this new initiative, both for the young women who attended the first meeting and for those in our neighborhood who we hope to reach in the coming months and years.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. — 1 Corinthians 6:15-20

Sanitary Pads, Flirting and Ballet Flats: The Fear-Inspiring Task of Parenting a Teenager

The eldest of the seven children the Lord has put in our household to care for as sons and daughters will turn 15 years old in less than three weeks and, honestly, I’m scared to death.

I sit here, reading and re-reading parenting books — entirely skipping over the baby and toddler sections and heading straight for the chapters on adolescence, on how to love and guide someone who is no longer a child — looking to glean bits of wisdom for a journey that instills fear in the hearts of even those parents who have been raising their own child since the day of its birth.

She moved into our home with her two younger siblings exactly 4 months and 8 days after my husband and I were married. I was 23 and she was 13, although I very well might have felt like I was 13 while she may have felt 23. I will never forget the day we met her at the Honduras government’s Child Services office among dozens of other children — as Darwin and I walked up, not knowing the exact ages or genders of the sibling group of three that we would be meeting and possibly inviting to move in with us, I made eye contact with her and the Lord spoke to my heart, “She will be your daughter.” When I asked her age and she innocently answered, “13,” I literally almost passed out.

That raw fear, that trembling sense of awe I felt upon meeting her for the first time has accompanied me every single day since. Many young Honduran women — especially those in rural areas or those affected by poverty — get ‘married’ and/or pregnant by 11 or 12 years old, so to take in a 13-year-old girl who comes from a tragic childhood is to commit oneself to what promises to be a grueling  uphill battle with possibly devastating results despite your best efforts.

A gripping sense of being unprepared, of even being the wrong person for the job, often threatens to spook me out of the gargantuan task before Darwin and me. I do puzzles with the younger ones, give piggy-back rides and console those who scrape their knees — but her? What do I do with a young woman who now wears the same bra size I do and who lends me a sanitary pad when I forget to go to the store to buy more?

She calls Darwin and me “Pa” and “Ma,” and we have plans to begin the legal adoption process with her and her siblings in June of next year once we hit our 3-year wedding anniversary and become legally capable of adoption, although she very well might be 17 or 18 by the time all the paperwork gets processed.

So I applied calamine lotion to her spots when she had chicken pox and help with fun hairdos for her different outings. We have long talks with her about decision-making, pray with her for her sexual purity, confront her on her sin as she does on ours, and we resolutely move on after asking for forgiveness and forgiving, trusting in God to work out the great redemption. She flirts with boys and thinks we don’t notice, and Darwin and I stay up late praying for her, discussing her growth, and grabbing at any scrap of wisdom the Lord tosses us on how to raise this young woman according to His will. She oftentimes asks me to put her to sleep at night, and there we have long conversations tinged with a maturity and openness that the younger ones don’t yet have. From there I sing lullabies and songs of praise and give a foot massage, stroking her hair as she drifts off to sleep, sending desperate prayers up to God that our imperfect, late-in-the-game efforts will be enough and that He’ll do the rest.

A couple weeks after she moved into our home in 2013 I was reading the Bible passage to her and her little sister at bedtime about when Jesus says that familial blood ties are not as important as those who, by obeying God, are united in one eternal family. She sat up in her top bunk and said that she wanted to join that family. We talked further, prayed together, and although we have never shared blood ties here on earth, she and I are now united by the blood of Christ and obedience to our Father.

So she plays on the girls’ basketball team I coach and is our faithful, enthusiastic participant in the various Bible studies and classes we teach. She fills the role of Darwin’s teaching assistant in the choirs and music lessons he directs and is even studying at a local university on Saturdays to learn English. She struggles to tell the truth in a culture of lies, fights with ego as I do, tries to make sense of her past, and accepts many changes around her as new siblings arrive and others go. She feels that Darwin and I don’t always understand her, and we put up with her frustrated glances and mood-swings. At times we have wild, joyful tickle fights as she chases us or we chase her around our front yard while on other occasions we endure her chilly silence, not knowing exactly how she is or what she’s struggling with. I desire to be her confidant, to share stories and feelings for hours on end as we both sit cross-legged on her bed, but in reality I don’t have the time to do so nor is that the role the Lord has given me to fill. Sometimes she and I are both in and out so much that a couple days pass before we really sit down and have a good conversation, but what she doesn’t know is that she’s always on my heart, never far from my thoughts and prayers.

On the airplane this June after having attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine who maintained sexually pure until the day of her wedding, I wrote through tears a letter to Dayana, recounting the beautiful details of the wedding and reminding her that I want to be able to rejoice with her, too, someday, as she walks in all white down the aisle to be wed to a man of God. Upon giving her the letter (bundled up with several others I had written her during the time I was away from home), she later told me that she, too, cried upon reading it and hopes by God’s grace that she may be able to walk in such a way.

So she faces adolescent temptations but still enjoys a wild go-around of hide-and-go-seek every once in a while, likes to wear ballet flats even though we live in the country, gets fed up on occasion with her younger siblings, and is in the beginning stages of searching out her identity in the adult realm, the specific purpose and path the Lord would have for her to take. We pay for her art classes, spend evenings hacking through her math homework assignments together, and invite her friends over for movies and popcorn. We laugh that we will be old women together one day, and Darwin and I remind her again of our expectations and hopes for her as God’s child. So I hug her goodnight and she says, “Thanks, Ma, for everything,” and in the depth of my heart I wonder if she means it or if she really resents us and is on the verge of self-destruction. I call my own mom asking desperately for parenting advice, and then, because the electricity has gone out once again, I talk with Dayana by flashlight about my own inadequacies, struggles and faith.

From my limited experience, parenting a teenager seems almost like learning how to cultivate a mentoring relationship with someone who is suddenly joining you and your husband as the third adult in the household. Strict bedtimes no longer seem realistic or necessary, and discipline that works for the younger ones just isn’t appropriate with her anymore. It is a season of learning all over again what it means to trust in God’s grace, to release our grip on control and, rather than turn our knuckles blue with worry or seek to control every move she makes for fear of her failure or humiliation (or ours), we entrust her to the Lord anew, recognizing that she was His all along.

Dayana (age 13) in December 2013, roughly a month after moving in with us
Dayana in August 2015, nearing her 15th birthday and her two-year anniversary with us


A compelling excerpt from Mike Mason’s book The Mystery of Children in a chapter on adolescence:

Every once in a while in the midst of this darkness [the author’s teenage daughter’s struggles with adolescence], a dim light would flash and I’d hear the words, “This is a spiritual battle. Pray for her.” But prayer is the last thing anyone wants to do in a crisis. Sure, you pray, but it’s not where your main energy goes. Your main energy goes into worrying, fearing, plotting, strategizing. Your imagination paints lurid scenarios and your brain works overtime, spewing out plan after plan to stave off encroaching doom…Meanwhile there’s this gnat buzzing around your head, whispering, “Pray for her. She needs your prayers. I’m her Father. Give her up to Me. Trust Me and pray.” How hard this is! We don’t mind praying so long as we can keep on worrying too. We Christian parents would not be caught bowing down before a pagan shrine, but night after night we kneel and worry beside our children’s beds. We think we are praying, but we are not. There is nothing godly, virtuous, or even practical about worry. Worry is not prayer to God, it is prayer to the person we are worried about…We’re looking to our children to bestow grace upon us. Our peace of mind depends upon their every move…Finally, as a last resort, I let go of my guilt and shame long enough to pray for Heather. That New Year’s Eve I breathed a prayer I knew was right: a clean, clear, humble, bold prayer for the darkness around my daughter to be driven back and for God’s light to fill her heart.


The Ax is at the Root of the Trees

In the past year we have welcomed 10 illiterate children and teens from our rural neighborhood into our free 3-day-per-week ‘homeschool’ program, and thus far 5 (exactly half) have voluntarily walked out not only on the only education they had ever received, but likely on their very future.

One struggle that often leaves me (and my husband, who himself is Honduran) scratching my head, perplexed, is the utter foolishness of many people here. We are not up against a community of people who steal, lie, and roam the streets aimlessly because no one has ever come to lend them a hand, to lovingly show them the Way, but rather many are in the condition they’re in because they foolishly rejected the love, the opportunities, the Truth presented to them in favor of their own misery, their own destruction.

Just yesterday my husband Darwin and I stood on the porch of our Education Building, a small cinderblock structure painted in a melon-like color where Darwin gives his music lessons and where three mornings a week we impart a government-approved elementary-level education to the children in our little school. Emotionally exhausted, we looked out across our large grassy property as our cows mixed and grazed with the herds of two of our neighbors.

“That’s…suicide,” I said as he finished telling me the sad news that the mother of a promising 8-year-old girl in first grade in our school just that morning informed Darwin that she would no longer be sending her daughter to school (…ever) because her daughter reported to her that our 6-year-old daughter Gabriela hit her on the hand during recess.

Previously, the mother had had her daughter in the local public school system, but due to extreme poverty was not able to pay the school fees or uniform costs, so for the last couple years her daughter had just stayed at home with her everyday, doing nothing (a too-common practice here). For the past six weeks or so we had been driving over 10 minutes from our home to theirs to pick her up at her front doorstep and take her up to our property every day to learn to read, write, do basic math, sing in Darwin’s choir, attend Bible study, and participate in agriculture, and every afternoon we did the 20+ minute round-trip drive to drop her back off at home. For free. To serve Jesus and love this little girl. And now, due to the mom’s (and possibly child’s) ignorance and/or blatant foolishness, she has withdrawn her daughter from the only educational opportunity available to her, and has condemned her to a life of illiteracy, idleness and probably teen pregnancy because her daughter complained to her that a little girl two years younger than herself hit her on the hand during recess, leaving no blood and no mark.

Possibly speaking out of ignorance myself, I asked my husband, “Do you think it’s like that in Africa?” He laughed. I continued: “I’ve heard and read of different people in Africa who open up a little school or mission, and like 100 children walk miles barefoot just to show up and learn, grateful for the opportunity. They study hard and become doctors and engineers, desiring to provide for their families and honor God.”

Here, on the contrary, 13-year-old Little Darwin, who several months ago was in second grade in our school, stormed out one morning never to return because he showed up late for the free breakfast before classes and was thus told he would have to wait two hours for recess in order to eat. He condemned himself to illiteracy, roaming the streets and stealing from us over his unwillingness to accept the (extremely small) consequence of his own tardiness.


We currently have a 15-year-old girl in third grade in our school program who last week walked out in the middle of class, climbed a tree behind the school, and began yelling at our nurse/cook Miss Martha, saying that she wouldn’t come down until the teacher herself climbed the tree to get her. After another similar incident only two days ago, this young woman herself is on the verge of becoming Number Six to permanently walk out on the only education she’s ever been offered. And her family doesn’t even have enough food to feed her, yet it doesn’t occur to her to stay in school if only to receive the free breakfast and lunch several days a week.

Jackeline, one of the young women the Lord has placed in our lives to love and care for as a daughter and who has been living under our guidance roughly 7 months, recently failed 5th grade in our homeschool program after a very poor effort. Weeks later, upon beginning the 5th grade school year a second time, she refused to do her homework and told the teacher: “It doesn’t matter if I fail again; I’m young enough that I can repeat without getting too behind.” We respond with prayer, long one-on-one talks, the taking-away of privileges and freedoms, written consequences, etc, and she continues onward in a sluggish ungratefulness that makes us want to pull our hair out and scream.

So I write all of this basically to ask for prayer. Darwin and I have jumped through many hoops trying to love and serve the children and youth the Lord has placed around us, and in the end it seems as though with many of them (even some of which live under our roof) we strangely enough end up begging them to care about their own futures or, possibly worse, I become jaded with all their foolishness, with all the long one-on-one- talks that never seem to produce any fruit, with the utter ungratefulness these children/youth display toward God for His favor, and my heart becomes discouraged and hardened. Please pray with and for us, that our labors may not be in vain, and that it may be revealed to us in whom we should invest our energies and resources so as to produce a harvest of good fruit for God’s Kingdom.

The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

— Matthew 3:10

Where’s Goliath?

Last week we brought home two adult dogs to help guard our rather large out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere property after two of the three puppies we were raising were very sickly and did not make it.

On Day Two of our new adventure with Goliath (a year-and-half old Rottweiler) and his buddy Dingo (an 8-month-old German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix), we suddenly lost track of Goliath and began looking for him all around our fenced-in property. We peered under our parked car, walked around each building, looked in and around the shrubs, and even recruited our 8-year-old son Jason to help us find a dog that is rather difficult to lose due to his size. We ended up scratching our heads, perplexed, wondering where on earth he was hiding when 10-year-old Josselyn came running out of our house and announced: “He’s in my room!”

Culturally here in Honduras, it is not appropriate to have a dog indoors, but even more than that we personally cannot have a 100+ pound Rottweiler in our tiny house that barely holds the 9 people who live there and that has to be cleaned from top to bottom just about every day due to dust, ants and other critters that waltz on in, dirt-caked barefoot children who run all around the place, and the general chaos that a busy household enjoys.

So my husband Darwin and I laughed and went to try to coax Goliath out of the girls’ bedroom. After several failed attempts, we laughed, shrugged, and decided to leave him there until he decided he was ready to leave.

Goliath in the girls’ bedroom

About an hour or two later, I walked back in to see if this time he was ready to return to the yard, and I was surprised to find the girls’ room vacant. I began walking around the house somewhat tentatively, and as I turned the corner into the kids’ bathroom, this is what I found:

Goliath resting in the kids’ shower

Once again, I tried to coax him out of his spot and into the yard, but he wouldn’t have any of it. So, I left him there. A couple hours later when Dayana, our eldest daughter, got home from her English class, we greeted her at the gate and walked with her as she entered our home to drop off her materials. We had warned her that Goliath had been in our house the whole morning, but we all thought that he was still resting in the shower. She opened the curtain to her bedroom, walked in care-freely to drop off her materials, but before taking two full steps into her room she screamed at the top of her lungs and ran out into the living room: Goliath had changed locations!

Goliath waiting to surprise Dayana in her bedroom!

A couple hours later, Jackeline, our almost-12-year-old, began singing to Goliath and, according to her, he finally got up, followed her voice, and went to her in the living room before finally exiting the front door a while later. Mission accomplished!

Jackeline with Goliath

For They are All the Work of His Hands

2:39pm Wednesday, September 2, 2015: Less than an hour ago we finished studying God’s Word with our neighbors as we all sat around in an oblong rectangle of chairs, stools and wooden benches in our dining room. It is now what we do every Wednesday afternoon, and many of the same people are coming week after week.

As the time was nearing for the Bible study to start earlier this afternoon, one of our young dogs vomited for the fourth or fifth time today as he lay nearly motionless, skin and bones after struggling with a devastating virus during these last three weeks even while receiving veterinary treatment. As I entered the kitchen, frazzled, the music coming from the little CD player seemed way too loud, and everyone seemed to want to tell me something or ask for help all at once. Large drops of sweat began rolling down my temples as my fever broke. Again. I had not slept last night and therefore felt like everything got on my nerves, and I snapped as kids and teens came strolling in too late to eat after having sacrificed the hour that is designated for eating in order to play soccer in our front yard. No one had moved the tables and benches, and as I began to somewhat frantically (although I tried to appear calm) sweep out all the dust, dropped bits of sticky rice and other mysterious particles from our large concrete dining room floor, I think everyone was very purposefully (and wisely) trying to stay out of my way. And the bad news: I, the Big Grump, would be leading the Bible study in less than five minutes!

As we sat down to begin the study, I sensed that several of the kids/teens whose food I took away for having arrived late had become bitter toward me and that everyone was probably wondering why I looked so stressed. So, with gritted teeth, I asked for forgiveness for my bad attitude in front of everyone and quickly blamed my insomnia before proceeding on with the teaching.

The marvelous part about all of this is not that I did not particularly want to be present and, much less, be the one designated to impart God’s Word to the 25 people all looking at me, but that even in the midst of my terrible attitude, near nervous breakdown, and general exhaustion, God’s Word came through without folly.

This week’s discussion centered around the question: How does the World treat the poor, the widows and the orphans? And, once everyone’s faces and general morale dropped as person after person shared how they themselves or people they know have suffered mistreatment, been taken advantage of, and generally been overlooked in society, we turned to God’s Word to answer the question: How does God treat the poor, the widows and the orphans?

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:5


Each week thus far we have taken a theme – be it injustice-Justice, lies-Truth, or change-Constant to compare how the World is with how God is.

Many of our neighbors have no concept of who God is, and if they don’t understand who He is – compassionate, just, good, true, loving – they will not even have the first notion of wanting to hear His Word or know Him.

My whole being will exclaim,
    “Who is like you, Lord?
You rescue the poor from those too strong for them,
    the poor and needy from those who rob them.” Psalm 35:10


Our mentor Larry has taught many times that Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s first command in the garden of Eden because they doubted His goodness. God gave the command out of love: “Do not eat from said tree.” Then the serpent came, calling God a liar and proposing to the humans that they do exactly what their Creator God warned them against. In believing the serpent (the liar), they evidently felt him to be more trustworthy than God, somewhere deep down feeling that God didn’t have their best intentions at heart, and therefore disobeyed.

[He] who shows no partiality to princes
    and does not favor the rich over the poor,
    for they are all the work of his hands… Job 34:19


If I think (wrongly) that God just wants to control me, is content with all the pain and suffering in the world, takes the side of the bad guys or better yet just ignores humanity, and doesn’t want me to enjoy life, why would I even have the slimmest desire to know and, much less, serve Him?

The poor will see and be glad—
    you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The Lord hears the needy
    and does not despise his captive people. Psalm 69:32-33


So we are, with the little pinches of wisdom that God grants us, trying to disarm the Garden-of-Eden mentality. We ask: What are some of the lies or instances of trickery or unfilled promises in our world? Everyone, obviously, has a lot to say, from false advertising in the marketplace to corrupt government leaders to infidelity among spouses and so on. We then assert: It is impossible for God to lie, and He always fulfills His promises.

On the topic of ‘change,’ we brainstorm: everything – our own bodies, time itself, buildings, relationships, plants – changes in our world. On the contrary: God does not change; He is the only constant that exists.

What are some of the injustices that we see or experience in our world, our neighborhood, our own lives? Another long, long list is shared as everyone in the oblong rectangle of chairs, stools and benches pipes in. But God? He is absolutely just and loves justice.

Who is like the Lord our God,
    the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
    on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
Psalm 113:5-9


So today we discussed how the World treats the poor, widows and orphans. And, with many of the people present themselves being poor and/or orphans, it almost seemed like too-touchy of a subject. Literally their faces fell as person after person spoke the truth: in general, the World does not place a high value on the marginalized. I assume many thought the discussion would end there; a sad summary of the suffering and shame they already know too well.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3


But as we remembered that each week we a take a contrast (how the world is versus how God is), the despair painted on their faces was literally turned to a visible joy-surprise as we read Bible verse after Bible verse about God’s heart for the poor, the widow and the orphan and his desire for justice for them. As several people took turns reading the verses out loud, person after person read words of truth about God’s prophetic promises to bring justice to the wronged, to comfort and protect the widow, to be the father to the fatherless. Jesus Christ’s own personal statement about his purpose in the world includes pronouncing good news to the poor, declaring freedom to the captives and giving sight to the blind!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19


As we finished the study, it occurred to me to ask if anyone was hearing this – God’s heart for the poor and outcast – for the first time. To my surprise, almost half of the people present shared through smiles of joy-struck awe that this was, in fact, the first time they had ever heard that God truly loves the poor and desires justice for them.

You have been a refuge for the poor,
    a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
    and a shade from the heat… Isaiah 25:4


I was astonished as one person after another — several of whom were middle-aged adults — shook their heads in awe and confessed that they literally never knew that God desires to be their refuge, that He commands His people to treat them well for love of Him. One older neighbor of ours, a man in his early sixties who has probably lived his entire life as a poor man, was the first to admit that today was the first time he had ever heard such outlandish Truth.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21


So I am encouraged anew to share the good news of the merciful, loving God — the Creator of the universe who favors all equally and offers the same promises to all who choose to repent and follow, the justice-desiring King who cries out to defend those on the margins and who Himself became one on the margins to save many. There are people who have literally never heard!

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14