After working among marginalized communities, one does become accustomed to the entire system of senses. Sight, smells, and sounds all become somewhat normal in the process of walking, breathing, and responding among those who have been brushed off by society. While walking among an outreach site last week, I moved across the sandy floor in sandals, which is highly discouraged by medical professionals, as fecal waste, garbage, and sewage runs free. However, as I've become so assimilated into the system, I no longer concern myself with these trivial issues, but instead, embrace the opportunity to share experiences equally as brothers and sisters across all destroyed barriers of discrimination.
This sun soaked morning, I stumbled back up onto the cement steps of the NGO's most recent outreach post named Valle Verde, which resides close to the ocean's edge, nestled in among uniquely lush green foliage. Typically inhabited by Peruvian's indigious settlers from tropical regions of Pucallpa, Madre de Dios, and even into the deep recesses of the Amazon Forest, removed famiilies from these regions have settled along the ocean's water resources. Many people were driven from the jungles in sheer terror of the Shining Path extremist groups while others swept into Lima's urban core searching for work. Hitting against the high poverty rate and skyrocketed unemployment rate, these families sought refuge among the high weeds and brush of the ocean's safe swells.
Our youth group leader team of Simplemente Jovenes have begun outreach ministry among these isolated and removed communities that have been abandoned by local and state governments here in Peru. The 14 youth from our team come down to these regions of Valle Verde to share Gospel message of Christ and the hope that is found in Him. Among these regions, destitute and thriving societies only live for next morning's sun, and the sense of future, hope, and joy only are found in the simplicity of birth, marriage, and death. For our team to bring fresh wind of life, hope, and restoration found in Christ has been one of the most captivating and intruiging parts of ministry in Peru.
In the astonishing restoration project that occurs in community rebuilding projects, one finds trust, friendships, and unity. Our youth leaders lead the children in games, activities, and bible lessons that come straight from God's word. The hope that is restored, one can only see the end result when eternity arrives.
As I observed the ministry happening, I realize that eternity was being altered in the amount of people that will rejoice, celebrate, and glorify the King of Kings for all of eternity. I sat down on the cement steps and deeply breathed in the wind of change from the ocean's shore. The salty air invigorated my mind as I peered across the 60 children that were being led by our team.
As I sat there, among the ministry, I felt a wave of deep joy to see children coming to know Christ. It was active ministry happening in one of the most desolate places in Peru. I marveled at the sacrifice of those near and far that have caught the vision of changing lives and altering the future for God. I closed my eyes and prayed for those precious lives. When I opened my eyes, there was a kid standing in front of me with his hands streched out. Confused, I asked him what he needed. His right hand was closed in a fist and he asked for my hand. I was afraid that perhaps a massive insect was going to climb up my arm.
Into my hands, he deposited a blue marble. Completely shocked to see a marble here, I smiled and humbly thanked him. He quickly ran back to his group and continued learning about God. The oddity of the entire love gift was it came from a boy that lives without father, no running water, no sewage, and certainly no access to health care, nor is enrolled in a local school. The selfless act of sacrifical giving was displayed and poured out within 30 seconds. It didn't take long. When I reazlied that his physical demonstration of active giving was done out of sheer joy to express gratitude, I was humbled and shaken by the simple marble. This marble, you know, one of those marbles that you used to play with as a kid for "jacks", symoblized a great truth. We all have the opportunity to receive a beautiful treasure in the form of sacrificial gift, Christ. Its an opportunity to live life, embrace hope, and seek restoration. One act of giving me a marble in the vast region of Valle Verde spurred a moment of conscious recognization that in simplicty is profound truth. I considered and prayed for all people who have sacrificially given in prayer and resources to our outreach ministry as they truly have given the marble in its simplicity. With each transaction of sacrificial giving of love, prayers, and resources, each person has demonstrated the selfless act of putting others before themselves. As Christ did at the Cross in His sacrifice of life for our freedom, I am to do the same with those in my family, ministry, and church.
What will we do today? Give sacrificially for those we love in our expression of gratitude and honor to represent the greatest gift of all, the Christ, the Son of God.
I'll take that marble and treasure the eternity of its impact.