Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Impossible Only Takes a Little Longer

Our little house sat in the middle of the property. The mission had purchased a hunk of mountainside outside of the City of Medellín, Colombia, to use as a ministry center. It had been a coffee farm and part of it was retained as that. There was a main house, an old house with thick mud walls, a galpón (large storage shed) and a couple of smaller houses. To all this, the mission added our little house, and a school building for the missionary children. The old house was turned into classrooms and a dorm for the male students studying at the Bible Institute where I taught. They worked off their tuition in the coffee farm. On the top end of the finca (farm) there was another old house that served as the dorm for the female students. From the upper finca we could look down on the Bella Vista Prison—a delightful place that I may tell you about later.

The road leading off the finca went through the village of Machado. It was a poor place—and a violent one. The local police left at sunset for fear of being shot at night. One of my first remembrances of living on the farm was the sound of gunshots echoing throughout the night from down in the village. Just outside the “back door” of our property the houses degenerated into shacks made of recycled cardboard, tin, and whatever else could be scrounged.

We no sooner had moved into our little house when the kids from the neighbourhood began to come around. They were so terribly poor, ragged and malnourished. One particular family of kids came around every day. I got into the habit of giving them food in the morning, especially milk and vitamin pills. We knew that they watched the place and we got into the habit of leaving things outside the door that we thought might be useful—like tin cans that would eventually end up plugging a hole in their house which was just outside the back gate.

At the time this event took place, I was sharing the house with one of the teachers from the missionary children’s school. Carol had the habit of leaving her slippers by the front door so that when she came home in the afternoon she could slip out of her shoes, put her slippers on, and not drag mud into the house.

One morning, as they usually did, the kids came to the door. I talked to them for a bit and then went back into the kitchen to get their breakfast. Normally I would have closed the front door before I disappeared from their sight. This particular morning, I didn’t. When I came back, they ate the food I had brought them and went on their way. They were cute kids, always smiling, always happy—an amazing thing considering their circumstances.

Later that day, Carol came back from school. When she came into the house she searched for her slippers. They had disappeared from their place beside the front door. I knew immediately what had happened. It was no great loss and certainly these kids could make better use of the slippers than Carol could. But the next day I couldn’t resist trying a little test.

As usual, the kids came to the door, smiling and happy, anticipating breakfast. We talked for a bit and then I casually asked them if they had noticed a pair of the slippers by the door when they were having breakfast the day before. I fully expected that they would vehemently deny having seen any such item.

To my surprise, they broke out in the most astonishing grins. “Do you want them back?” asked one of the tykes. I was flabbergasted! “Yes,” I said, “that would be nice.” They took off, only to return a little later—with the slippers.

I realized later, after a few other experiences, that to these children, stealing was just a natural part of life. In some cases, as in the case of the slippers, it was a game. This time they had lost and I had won. Tomorrow it might be another story. No problem.

The children of the third world are so much like the people of the lost world. Sin is natural. It’s just a part of life. It’s just a game. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. There is no consciousness of wrongdoing. No problem. To convince a lost world that there really IS a problem, one that only Jesus can solve, is a huge task, impossible for any of us to successfully complete. The encouraging news is that what’s impossible for you and me, is possible for God (Matthew 19:26).

As we go out to deal with a world that doesn’t know it’s lost anymore than those children knew that stealing was wrong, we take with us this promise from Isaiah 55:10, 11 (NIV): “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out of my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

 Milk and vitamins—and even slippers—will only last for a while, but the seeds of the Word of God that we plant are guaranteed to produce eternal results. The God of the impossible promises it.

 

Lynda is a missionary, speaker, educator, writer, editor, and cat lover. She was born and raised in Timmins, the heart of gold mining country in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Lynda has served with Fellowship International for more than thirty years, first in Colombia, a brief stint on home staff in Toronto, Ontario and, more recently in Venezuela. She is currently on staff at First Baptist Church in Timmins, Ontario where her primary focus is spiritual formation. The author of Divine Design for Daily Living, a 365 day devotional journey through the entire Bible (published in Spanish and English),  Lynda blogs Lynda’s Grain of Sand, maintains her own website Northern Breezes , and has been seconded by Fellowship International to serve on the Communications team of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

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