Tag Archives: Prostitutes

Standing at the Gates of Hell

The two new young women I wrote about in the previous post arrived at our front gate on Monday of this week (three days ago), and it has been a very intense and exceedingly blessed three days with them. They are two young women (ages 14 and 15, not related biologically) who have been through many hard hits in life (and dealt some hard hits in return), and we feel utterly convinced that after having bounced around in various foster homes and orphanages the Lord brought them to our home to find stability, permanent family, healing and, ultimately, a transforming relationship with Christ.

In these first three days with them we’ve shared many moments that are too delicate to share on this blog, but in increasing measure the joy of the Lord is experienced in our household as Darwin, our 8 kids who’ve been with us for several years and I are truly collaborating together — as the body of Christ — to extend God’s love to two teens who literally no one else was willing to receive.

Two days ago after some shocking news was revealed to us about one of our new arrivals, I experienced many moments of ‘becoming undone’ emotionally as we sought to appropriately deal with the information and its implications in the way that God saw fit. It was a day of bitter weeping, much prayer and a very serious family meeting so that our 8 would all be on the same page — united in Christ — with Darwin and I so as to love these two teen girls (and protect those who are already in our household) in a way that very likely they had not priorly been loved.

At the end of that very trying, stretching day (Tuesday), I sat at the long wooden table in our living room next to our 14-year-old daughter Jackeline who quietly went about completing her math homework (I’m her math teacher) by candlelight as the Lord enveloped our household in that blessed nightly silence during our family’s “sabbath hour.” It had been perhaps the most difficult day we had experienced as a family in some time, and yet I felt the Lord’s presence and His hand over the entire situation more strongly than ever before. I sat next to Jackeline stroking her back as she continued hard at work, wooden pencil in hand and notebook illuminated by the little candle in front of her. We stayed like that for a long time — me stroking her back, her working on her homework, the rest of our kids quietly tucked into their rooms for the night along with our two new arrivals — when I asked her, “Jackeline, you know that I love you, right?”

This is something that we communicate frequently to our kids, so without skipping a beat she immediately took her concentration away from her schoolwork, penetrated my eyes with hers with striking joy, and said  with a big nod and a smile, “Yup.”

I smiled, still sensing the Lord increasingly near in the midst of the rescue mission He had very unexpectedly sent our family on to go after the souls of these two young women who would have very likely become prostitutes within the next couple years had He not intervened. Then I bent in closer towards Jackeline, my hand still patting her back as she had quickly resumed her schoolwork, and I whispered, “You know, you’re one of my favorites.”

This time the smile overtook her face as her eyes came up to meet mine again and she let out a little laugh and said, “I know!”

We both laughed at that, and then I said, “You wanna know a secret?”

She nodded her head ‘yes,’ momentarily forgetting her math homework. I continued, “I’ve never felt happier in my life, and it’s because I’ve never felt nearer to the Lord.”

She studied my eyes for a few moments — fully knowing the day that our family had just lived, how our obedience to Christ was put to the test in a big way once we received the news we did about one of our new foster daughters — and then she nodded quietly in agreement, understanding what that joy is that goes beyond fluctuating ‘happiness’ and is found only within God’s will.

Her pencil quickly resumed moving back and forth as she calculated numbers and solved algebraic equations. I continued contemplating the beauty of our Lord and what it means to serve Him in this great rescue mission, literally tackling people off the path as they’re headed into Hell. I felt like weeping — for joy, for pain over what each of our children (and so many others all around the world) have suffered, for the great privilege that our Lord allows us to serve Him in such a way — but I had already wept so much that day that I felt dry, emptied. At peace. So I just thanked Him in my heart. In the face of what almost any sane person would call an impossible situation, I never felt closer to Him, more convinced of His burning desire to rescue these two young ladies from the snares of the enemy.

So we give thanks for all 10 of our children and we enter into yet another chapter of our life and service with Christ now with 7 daughters and 3 sons, all of whom come from devastating circumstances and whom have found (or are finding) healing and freedom in God’s eternal family through Christ. There are many things to pray for — perhaps even urgently so, desperately so — but for now all I can think to do is give thanks. Our new girls’ names are Carolina and Paola. Please pray with us for their salvation and transformation into the image of Christ, and for our other 8 kids, that God would use them mightily to minister to their two new housemates as we band together as a family to stand at the gates of Hell, blocking the entrance and joyfully receiving those whom the Lord chooses to rescue, whatever the personal cost may be. Thank you. To God be the glory and praise forever. Amen.

“Some want to live within the sound
Of church or chapel bell;
I want to run a rescue shop,
Within a yard of hell.”

— C.T. Studd

 

Unlikely Disciples

A few weeks ago we began offering an optional “Christian Leadership” class on Tuesday afternoons for those students and laborers who wish to stay a bit late after their morning academic classes and deepen their walk with Christ.

We had the handwritten sign-up flyer taped to the external wall of our Education Building during the days leading up to the first class, and I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few names scribbled on the list. There would be no credits given for the class, and, moreover, the other after-school classes being offered – sports, art, music, cooking class, and math club – honestly presented a glossier, more alluring attraction to the majority of the students than another class about Jesus. I mean, all of our students already spend several hours each week in Bible study, praise and worship, and organized prayer groups. What teen or pre-teen previously accustomed to very little spiritual direction would voluntarily sign up for more?

On the morning of the first class I glanced at the sign-up sheet again, and to my surprise many of the names had been carefully covered up with white-out! The brightest students – and honestly those whom I’m closest to and who participate most in our twice-weekly Bible studies – had erased their own names from the list! I sighed and read the names that remained: generally lazy trouble-makers – bad students! – who I have to constantly reel in during Bible study! How could this be? Why on earth would they sign up for an intensive Christian leadership course while the others backed out last-minute? Why didn’t those wily, disobedient students just sign up for cooking class and sports club? Is this some kind of joke?

I headed to our bedroom, quite disappointed and wondering why so many students backed out last-minute. I gathered my teaching materials from our wooden bookshelf and began heading over to the 7th-grade classroom where I would hold the class. In passing I commented to my husband sarcastically: “Ha! Stanley [a 15-year-old 7th grade student who has a long record with us of disrespect, laziness, sexist jokes and general immaturity] signed up for Christian Leadership! And he’s constantly goofing off in Bible study. Why would he sign up for the class? I think he got confused with the sign-up sheets.¨

As soon as those venomous words came spewing out of my mouth I bit my lip, already regretting having said all that I did (or rather, having thought it in the first place).

So I exited through our front door, repentant for my judgment of Stanley and determined to ask God for a better perspective – His perspective. As I took the ten or eleven steps to reach our Education Building, Charlie, a very small 13-year-old in 7th grade (who also has a long history of clowning around, not passing his exams, etc), came running up to me and asked if it was too late to sign up for Christian Leadership.

I smiled warmly – Charlie had been in Darwin’s and my prayer group that morning – and told him we would be entering in 5 minutes and that he was welcome to join us.

I guided the 5 students who had signed up for Christian Leadership over to our kitchen to serve them rice and beans, and from there they carried their plastic bowls with them over to the classroom where we would be having our class.

Miraculously, rebellious Stanley had not slipped out our front gate unnoticed, escaping his commitment to the class. He was right there with the others, face unusually bright and open. I suppose I had still hoped that he had signed up for the wrong after-school class and would be erasing his name from the list as so many others had already done.

We entered the empty classroom, everything swept and cleaned – smelling of a strong yet pleasing cleaning liquid – after our 7th grade students had collaborated only a few minutes earlier to clean at the end of their schoolday.

Everyone sat down as we formed a tight semi-circle out of the desks, moving aside those that remained empty so as to create a sense of greater unity and less distraction. Miss Martha, our 56-year-old nurse and cook, came in, as she had also written her name on the sign-up sheet. A few moments later 22-year-old Miss Isis and 29-year-old Miss Ligia, our elementary and secondary teachers, also entered the class, eager to learn.

As Spanish praise and worship music played softly over the CD player – at times barely audible as the rains intensified over the tin roof of our Education Building – I considered the motley crew of eager disciples Jesus had chosen for this class: a woman in the autumn years of her life, a young single mom, a lawyer who left the world behind to take a low-paying job teaching troublesome rural teens for God’s glory, four teen boys (all of which are not generally classified as ‘good students’ and who have had their share of behavioral struggles with us), our 12-year-old daughter Josselyn (who had just entered third grade this past week after passing second grade with flying colors), and myself.

My mind listed about five or six names of students who would have been perfect for this class – those who actively participate in Bible study, those who actually show some interest in knowing God and obeying Him. Where were they?!

I sort of looked around, stupefied, waiting for at least one or two of the boys to stand up and leave once they realized this was a Christian Leadership class. No fun art projects; no tasty cooking experiments; no high-energy relays or trips to the local soccer field. Just the Bible, an open heart, a large whiteboard in front of us, and a journal for each person.

No one moved, not even Stanley.

My eyes met 15-year-old Brayan’s, our beloved prodigal son who is in fifth grade for the fourth time.  Brayan – Brayan!, that now-almost-as-tall-as-me man child who lived with us for eight months a couple years ago, whom I used put to sleep at night, whom I read Lion King picture books to, who has the affectionate needs of a small boy, who can’t seem to ever ´get his act together´ and get on schedule with his homework assignments, who spends his free time wandering aimlessly around our rural neighborhood, who can´t seem to maintain a respectful attitude toward his step-mother, who even recently got mixed up in some bad decision-making – who even now, almost two years after having moved out of our home, still calls me “Ma” – this Brayan! – wants to learn to be a leader for Christ.

I get it, Father. They’re all here on purpose – You’ve carefully chosen each one and placed them here for a reason – and no one is leaving.

Your plans are always better than mine, Father.

With a big, genuine smile and an ‘okay-then!’ attitude, I let out a small laugh that probably only I understood and began displaying several brightly-colored notebooks on one of the desks in the middle so that each person would come and grab one.

The Spanish worship music continued in its majesty; rain trickled overhead, then pounded, then trickled again.

The Bible verse I scribbled in large print across the whiteboard that first class was this: ¨Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.¨ (1 John 2:6)

From there, everyone participated as they called out different aspects of the way Jesus lived. Perfect obedience to God, joy in the midst of difficulties, did not love money or seek happiness/security in it, willingness to suffer, did not consider this world to be His home, etc. I listened as I wrote frantically with arrows spouting out from the large-written verse, trying to keep up with all that was being said.

Then one of the teen boys mentioned with confidence, ¨Jesus spent time with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and the ´bad´ people – drug lords and thieves. He wasn´t scared of them, nor did He judge them.¨

Another one of the boys perked up, familiar with this teaching that we had all studied together in our community Bible study several months prior and added enthusiastically: ¨He came not for the ´good´ people but for the ´bad´ — those that recognize that they are bad, that is. We are all murderers, after all. He came to heal the sick – those that recognize they need a savior – and not for those who try to justify themselves!¨

As my long arm extended toward the whiteboard, instinctively trying to keep up with their right-on proclamations of the way Jesus lived, it hit me hard and clear: that´s why God has brought together such a motley crew of disciples for this class. These are the kids who recognize they need more of God; they are the ones who perhaps best associate with the God-man who sought out the lost, the robbers, the ‘bad guys’.

These are the same kinds of young men Jesus would have probably hand-picked to walk with Him 2,000 years ago.

I’m so foolish in my quick judgments and human standards!

Now I get it, Father. Thank you for revealing Your wisdom to the most unlikely.

Oh, throughout this year we had been so consumed with looking for ‘good students’, with finding bright youth from our neighborhood – those that display some real sense of leadership capability, those who already have good habits, fairly respectable personal hygiene and some pinch of academic work ethic. But the whole time our Father has been preparing the vagabonds – the ´bad´ teens, those that are a step or two away from falling into the gangs – to take hold of His Word with faith and be trained up willingly to go out and make more disciples for His glory.

So we continued onward with an attitude of great joy, mine rooted in deep thanksgiving, as we held dynamic discussions and participated in communal prayer.

We finished the class by reading the entire book of 1 John, which I believe none of the participants had previously read. Each person grabbed a Bible as some sprawled out on the tile floor to read while others remained in their desks or stood quietly by the open windows to take God’s Word in their hands and meditate.

The peace among us was so strong; a great calm overtook the room as soft sunlight poured in, the rain still trickling overhead, each person silently absorbing the great hope we have in a God who loves us enough to not give up on us, who goes so far as to die for our redemption, liberating us from the punishment we deserve. The rest of the world carried on with its business (busyness): our kids and students passing by the front porch, Darwin giving piano classes in an adjacent room, others involved in cleaning projects or group homework assignments or pick-up soccer games on the damp front lawn as God silently, efficiently, made His will known to each of His unlikely disciples.

That was four weeks ago; every Tuesday afternoon since then we have continued to meet, to open the Word together and learn what it means to submit ourselves to God’s will to such an extent that we become useful instruments in His hands, leaders to reach the nations with the Truth. Three additional students, also very unlikely disciples, have since joined our class as we continue onward with great hope that He will transform us – we who would be the last to be chosen for any great task the World could assign! – into powerful instruments in the Living God’s hands.

Amen! Glory to God!