One of the most powerful and exciting things to behold is the testimony of a changed life in the hands of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we talk a great deal about how Jesus is in the business of changing people, but we all know it is one thing to say that we are changed and quite another to demonstrate change with the actions of our lives.
In all of the homes we serve, we trust that God is changing the lives of the children we work with, even when it is not easily visible. But every once in a while, we are blessed with a glimpse of the divine work that is taking place and we see a clear manifestation of Jesus-induced change! At the Manantial de Amor (MDA) girl’s home, I saw one of these changes that Jesus is making in the lives of one of the girls that live there. (In the following story I’ve changed the names of the girls to protect their identity.)
Not too long ago, a girl named Laura came from a government-run children’s home to live at the MDA girl’s home. She found herself sharing a bedroom with eight other teenage girls who already had developed sister-like bonds with one another- intimidating for sure! Laura, as many troubled teens do when they are uncomfortable, lashed out and much of her aggression was directed to one girl in particular, a girl named Susie. For several weeks, the two lived in tension with one another, with conflicts and arguments every day. Then, one day it all came to a head on Susie’s birthday!
Susie had received some money from supporters in the United States for her birthday with which she had purchased some gifts. Things had seemed to have improved between Laura and Susie for a couple weeks and the house was a much nicer place for all.
One day while Susie was away, Laura found where Susie had hidden the rest of her birthday money and stole it along with the gifts that Susie had already purchased. Then she ran away from the children’s home. She got into some minor trouble with a police officer and when he asked her where she lived so he could return her, she told him that she lived at the government run children’s home in the area, the very home from which she had come to MDA.
The caregivers were surprised to see her back there, but took her in and contacted Edgar, the director of MDA. As the story unfolded, I can only imagine the fear and hard-heartedness that must have been welling up inside Laura. The director for the government home sternly told Edgar that he needed to confront and discipline Laura with strong and severe consequences. This was all that would get through to a child like Laura.
Edgar replied, “No we don’t do that here. We have another approach. We are going to love her.”
Edgar brought Laura back to the MDA girl’s home that day. I wonder how slowly Laura walked from the car to the front door. What was she thinking? What was she feeling? What reaction would Susie show her when their eyes met? I guarantee that whatever she was expecting, it was nothing like what really happened.
Susie came to Laura and hugged her and told her that she was glad she was back. Clearly, she could see the fear and confusion in Laura’s eyes, wondering where the expected retribution was.
Susie took Laura aside and told her, “Laura, I don’t care about the gifts. I don’t care if I get those back or not. YOU are what is important! YOU are so much more important than all of those things combined!”
This is what excites me about Back2Back! I love seeing the change that is taking place before our very eyes in the lives of children like Susie. Sometimes it can be hard to see, but other times, heaven breaks through in glorious moments like these! It is through the love of Jesus that Edgar and others have shown Susie over the years at MDA, that she has changed. And hopefully, prayerfully, it is through the love and mercy of girls like Susie, that Laura and others like her will be changed as well!