Sofia whips down the slide in the Cancun sun and lets her laughter ring through the air as she runs to the open window looking into the kitchen. Glasses of cool, clear, clean water sit on the ledge of the window, beckoning to be consumed; Sofia obliges.
As she tips the glass nearly vertical to get every last drop, she peers into the kitchen where mothers gather to cut fresh vegetables and stir steaming pots in preparation to feed Sofia and her friends. She hears the women laugh and talk together, kissing each other’s cheeks in greeting; this is a picture of community, of full bellies, of home and the newfound meanings that come with it. This is an illustration of a little girl coming to understand the terms safety and security are not only concepts, but realities within her grasp. This, to the little girl with a smile that is bright and welcoming, is a taste of freedom.
What does freedom mean to you? Is freedom the ability to negotiate a later curfew with your parents? Is freedom paying off that final car payment and alleviating debt stress? Is freedom what comes with finally procuring your dream job and feeling like you belong?
For the approximately 150 million orphaned and vulnerable children, worldwide, freedom comes into focus in a different framework.
To the children running wild in open spaces in Nigeria, true freedom is knowing, without question, their next meal will come to them, their bellies will be full; freedom is laughing loudly and playing joyfully.
Sweet Sofia is a little girl who has significant hope and promise within her. The world says she is behind in a school under-resourced and over-populated, but her God provides tutoring twice a week to help her rise to her grade level and potential. Sofia’s environment lacks true safety and solace in the outskirts of Tres Reyes, but the community center she attends provides walls, and arms, of security. Her bright smile and laughing eyes are quick to embrace and her arms latch around visitors’ necks showcasing a young girl who is learning, growing, and understanding her value in an ever changing story.
It is in the midst of His promises showering her life, Sofia is learning about the God who made her and the Jesus who saved her who is calling her to live differently.
As she watches friendship blossom over steaming pots and chopped vegetables, she is being given a home among the children playing on the nearby soccer field. She is provided consistency and stability in staff who love her, fight for her, and believe in her future. Because of the Father who loves her she can blossom in her curiosity, generosity, and kindness. She can truly begin to dream new dreams.
God loves his kids. Whether they are paying off a new car or just coming to understand what it means to not have to be preoccupied with when their next meal might be. With His love comes promises; He pledges to defend and rescue, to vindicate and deliver, to secure justice and give compassion.. Our God is one of liberation.