Vulnerable and grateful
One of our guests sent me the following message yesterday (9 Feb 21): “Your appointment will be tomorrow. You should be here at the company at 5 am and bring two padlocks. We are waiting for you! ”
They presented their case to us in the coldest week of last winter. Newly arrived in Brazil, in the middle of a pandemic, without speaking the language, tricked and stolen by a “coyote”, left on the street without documents, without his bags, in short, totally vulnerable. Still not knowing many details, I quickly sent a blanket and warm clothing.
That same night I received a photo as a thank you. In it, he was spreading the blanket on the floor, getting ready to sleep. I noticed that there was no mattress. I also noticed that, despite this, he was smiling. I was confronted with what I saw. Extreme neediness and gratitude do not usually go together. How many times, even with much more than we need, we are not grateful and, worse, we complain and retain!
I asked to be brought to our space. I wanted to meet him in person and learn more about his history and how I could help. He arrived with the sweater I had sent, in shorts and flip-flops. It was a very cold afternoon. With the help of the translator, I heard his story. Reserved, polite, he didn't look up to answer.
Nine months have passed. Today he started his new job with a formal contract. Between that first meeting and today, there is a history of struggle, overcoming, but also of shepherding and friendship. He once said to me: “you are my family”! It is true!
Daily socializing, communion at the table, conversations in the car returning home after a hard day at work. Portuguese classes, video chats with his wife and children (still in his country of origin), a sense of justice when we retrieve his bags and documents after we have confronted the coyote. The joy when I gave him a Bible in Portuguese and his spontaneous reaction to reading there, in front of me, out loud (very slowly, but with the pride of a good student), the dedication I wrote… the care I had with vegetables, the flowerbeds, the books ...
All of this has surfaced now and a huge sense of gratitude and smallness fills my heart. What a privilege to be channels of the Lord's blessing! Meditating in Hosea today, I came across these words: "The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel out of Egypt and through a prophet took care of him" (12.13). Liberation and shepherding through a pastor-prophet. How special to be comforted by that reality today ... exactly today.
I never imagined, prepared, or sought to be doing what I do today. The Lord, however, summoned me and, with an extreme sense of inadequacy, learning every day, at enormous personal and family cost, always pleading for wisdom and resources from on high, I try to shepherd (free and care) the little ones that He presents to me. . Of course, we are only able to do something because we have people who pray and invest in us.
Many others need to be shepherded. The time and circumstances demand it. The needs, multiple and complex, are enormous opportunities to demonstrate the love of the Eternal in a concrete way to the most vulnerable among the vulnerable. But we walk on our knees and our hands are fragile. The financial challenge is huge ...
We cannot move forward alone. We didn't make it. We believe that God's work, done in God's way, will have God's resources. Pray with us. May we have, each day, his blessing, his wisdom, and his strength. If you can, invest generously. His little ones are grateful.