A few days ago, I put out a request for some additional funding towards soccer balls for Heavenly Goals in Uganda. And I know that everyone is overwhelmed at this moment…lots and lots of organizations asking for end of year gifts (I know, I’m guilty of that too!) and of course for those who did their Christmas shopping using those little plastic cards that make picking up “one more gift” so very easy…the bills are arriving and the Christmas joy may be replaced by New Year anxiety…but perhaps I need to elaborate…and I will share a small part of my day.
This morning, as I was going through my “to do” list and trying to make sure I can schedule what needs to happen, I enter into a conversation with a ministry leader in a community outside of the United States. The leader was heart-broken because of a situation. In their community, in the midst of their ministry, they care for kids, they help kids, the mentor kids, they challenge kids, and sometimes, when parents aren’t doing their job, they even sponsor kids. If kids can’t eat, they can’t learn. If they are unable to go to school, they can’t learn. And if a child isn’t able to get an education, then their options for an income in the future becomes a very small list. So this ministry leader was caring for a particular girl…I’ll call her Mary. Mary was cared for as much as could be handled by this ministry leader and family…until Mary’s dad, who doesn’t believe in Jesus, decided that his daughter hanging around Christians was a bad idea. So he kept her away.
Today, the ministry leader found the girl (who happens to be a teenager) with a man in a situation that is not even something that I want to think about…apparently the dad has found a certain value in his daughter but it comes at a great cost…to the daughter. To her dad, she is just a resource that has no value in herself…and without some sort of intervention in her life, at some point, she will come to believe it also.
So why do I write this today…for a few reasons.
For one, it is my own version of therapy. I have to take a situation like this that brings me to tears and raises up a rage inside of me and work it towards God’s amazing Grace. I also write about this because often people who don’t know me don’t know what I do. A part of my role is to keep ministry leaders leading…and these are hard situations. Our leaders live in these communities, in several countries, facing situations like this over and over again…going through the hurt of seeing families “marry” off their teen daughters to middle aged men, or auctioning off their virginity, or renting their bodies out in exchange for food or drink. What does it take to keep going? How do we encourage a leader to stay in the battle and that God really is good and is listening and responding to their prayers?
Sometimes it takes someone who has traveled down that path before them. Counseled hundreds of people who have been traumatized and hurt and let them know that someone cares. It may take the form of helping them to see how many have been rescued, or how many have been protected, or how many have received scholarships to school, or to point out how God provided added people, or a building….
And sometimes it comes in the form of a few soccer balls so that leaders can go out into their community and mentor more kids, and train up more mentors who have a heart to protect children.
What can you do? Lots of things…but for today, how would you like to provide for a soccer ball…and a box of tissues.