Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Who Else Can Do It?

Recently, our lives seem to be a serious of hard and important decisions. I am not complaining about this. I am just stating the fact.

Here are just a few of those decisions:
  1. A few weeks ago we received call about a one year old boy in desperate need of a home. He was in the hospital due to neglect, abuse and malnutrition, and he needed a home. Because of the severity of his special needs, they had no where else to send him. No one else was equipped to deal with his needs, and everyone was full, including us. Our home is full and our family, interns and staff are stretched. But what happens to this little guy if we say no? That is a hard decision with life and death implications.
  2. About 15 minutes later, we received a call about a brother and sister in need of a home. The little brother has cerebral palsy. The big sister is severely under stimulated and very delayed. Both are malnourished. Can we please make room?
  3. Over the last three weeks we have received calls asking us to take 12 other children. All of them have special needs, and none of them have other options for a home.
  4. One of our rural village ministry teams visited one of our sponsored children two weeks ago. I received a call from the team leader asking me if we could take Paola into one of our homes. Her mother has given up and is broken. She is depressed and has stopped caring for her daughter. As a result, she has worsened significantly. She is malnourished and is fighting infection. She has become increasingly less alert. She is dying. After spending three days wrestling with the decision, Stevie and Carissa decided to take her into home 2, even though they are stretched as well. When we returned to the home to inform the mother of our decision, we find that she has changed her mind. She refuses to surrender Paola to the courts to be placed in one of our homes. What should we do? Should we report the case to PGN to have Paola forcibly removed? If we do, it could mean the end of our ministry in that community due to the possibly hostile response of her family and neighbors. We have never had a child removed before, but Paola’s life is hanging in the balance.
  5. In the past 15 days I have received calls from six new communities asking me to come and help children who are in severe or critical condition and in need of help. When do I say yes? When do I need to say no? How do I choose?

I confess, there have been a few days that these decisions have overwhelmed me. On two occasions, I retreated to my room, closed the door, and wept and cried out to God for guidance, help and strength. And there were two nights that I lay in bed awake and fretting over these decisions. And, one by one, we have made the decisions.

Answer key:
  1. We said yes, and little David is now safely in our home and arms and moving toward healing.
  2. Stevie and Carissa said yes, and little Dani and Roxy are safely under their care and improving rapidly.
  3. To each of these 12, we said no. We have 15 children in house 1 and 10 children in house 2. We simply have no more room.
  4. After wrestling hard with this decision, I chose to report them to PGN. She was removed from her mother last Thursday and brought to our home. Thankfully, PGN handled the situation beautifully and helped the family to see that we are with them, not against them, and they are not angry. But Paola arrived at our home in bad shape. She had a nasty lung infection, her O2 sats were very low, and she was unable to lift her head or arms. Our doctor came quickly, and we started her on antibiotic injections, oxygen, and breathing treatments. Praise God, she has turned the corner and is doing better. But I am not sure she would have lived much longer had we not intervened.
  5. I am still sorting through these requests and praying hard for answers. We have begun ministry in one area, but are still unsure about the other five. I know that where we choose to go, lives will be saved. Where we don’t choose to go, lives will be lost. 

Last week, as our home came together to pray before bed, I felt overcome, not with pressure, but with gratitude. As I prayed, I thanked God for putting us in the middle of hard situations filled with hard decisions. I thanked Him for the pressures we face, because that means what we do matters. For years, I prayed that Jesus would make my life matter for Him, not knowing what that prayer really meant. But I realize now that the only way we can ever make a real difference is by embracing the hard things of life.

Last week I visited with my friends, Todd and Amy Block. They have a wonderful home for children and teens that cares for the abused, abandoned and sexually molested. I was privileged to know them before their ministry opened, and I have seen it grow and blossom.

As I spoke with them, they told me how so many people told them to focus on the little children because they were “easier.” But God led them down a different path. As a result, they now have pregnant teens and teen mothers. They welcome children and adolescents with baggage and brokenness, and these often come through their door angry and defiant. And the Blocks  are seeing transformation in those that most everyone else rejects. 

And that is where the church is suppose to be…right in the middle of brokenness, making hard decisions and facing the pain of every loss. Why?  Because no one else can.

God created the church to do the things that others cannot and will not do. And He filled it with His Spirit to provide the necessary strength to do that work. We are His channel for doing the God-sized work the world desperately needs.

The dangerous, the heart-breaking, and the impossible should be the home field of God’s people, and historically it has been. Yet, over time, the church has gravitated toward the easy, the comfortable, and the mundane. And most of our time is spent doing things that anyone could do.

But the invitation remains. He invites us to trust and follow Him where others cannot and will not go. He calls us to risk our lives, our possessions, and our reputation to do the things that only God’s people can do through His power. And that is where we will find the life and significance we have always wanted. But we will never find it if we seek comfort.

That is one of the reasons why we have decided to avoid getting too close to the missions community here. We love and work with many members of it, but we don’t join their groups. Time and time again, we see people move down to Guatemala with a fresh fire in their hearts to give away their lives for the sake of the Gospel. But they plug in with various missionary groups here, and they begin to gradually change. They find themselves “needing” more and wanting more. Their willingness to sacrifice is drowned out by voices that tell them they need to “take care of themselves” and return to the States more often. “After all, God would not want you to (fill in the blank of sacrifice here).” And soon their willingness to sacrifice, bleed, and die for the Kingdom dissipates. 

Time and again, Wanda and I have been told by others that they cannot do what we do. The reasons are varied, but usually it comes down to one issue. “It would hurt me too much to do what you do.” And hidden within that statement is the lie of the enemy that says, “God wouldn’t want me to hurt that much.”

  • God wouldn’t want me to love a child and watch them die.
  • God wouldn’t want me to not be able to see my family back in the States.
  • God wouldn’t want me to be faced with impossible decisions with life and death consequences.
  • God wouldn’t want me to do anything that would cause my children pain or endanger them.
  • God would not want me to be exhausted because I poured myself out completely.

And so, we don’t. And the world dies around us while we convince ourselves that we are doing all we can do…all that He would expect us to do. And we spend our time doing what anyone can do instead of doing the things that only the children of the Living God can do.

But still, the invitation from Jesus awaits. He invites us out of the boat onto the waves of pain, poverty, desperation, and life-and-death decisions. He invites us out of the comfortable and into the unimaginable. He invites us to a life that matters, to both Him and to the world that needs Him.

But what will we choose? And if we, the church, say no, who else will say yes?

Blessings from Guatemala!
Daryl, Wanda and the Crew

And here are a couple of verses for meditation:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”
John 14:12 NLT

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 1:19-20 NLT