I was only 16, and in Honduras where nothing made sense anymore-- not my life at home or the pain and poverty I was seeing everywhere.
I was silently dreading the night we had dinner with the prostitutes. What was I supposed to talk to them about when we don't even speak the same language?
And we sat next to Doris whose eyes looked at us so longingly. She kept complimenting my friend Hannah's shoes and she took them off and gave them to her, walking around barefoot in the rocky courtyard.
I wanted to do something, but felt so utterly overwhelmed and unqualified to do or say anything. I struggled through the whole dinner until I finally just decided to pray for this lady I had never met. It was probably a horrible prayer. But I sobbed and she cried, and she went home to a life of prostitution and I went home to America.
She gave her new son up for adoption-- that unbelievably selfless woman. She was diagnosed with AIDS. She began seeking God.
Although barely older than me, she looked like she had lived many lives.
It was almost six years later when I saw her again. At the church surrounded by gravel, she wobbled in with a cane and I barely recognized her. She was wearing a plastic bag as underwear and had massive gaping wounds on her hips.
Why, God? Why is this her life and not mine?
She began coming to the church more and getting care. She sold little candies to make money and lived in a tiny apartment that was dangerous and smelled like urine. It was essentially a tiny concrete box with no bed.
I gave her blankets, pillows, soaps, lotion, and other necessities. The next week she had nothing. She had given it all away.
"They needed it more," Doris said. She spoke quickly with a strong accent that made her hard to understand.
Today Doris passed away.
My heard aches and breaks, but it also rejoices to know that she is no longer hurting.
I am forever thankful for teachers in life like her and a hundred others.
Teachers of brokenness. Teachers of selflessness. Teachers of faith.
It has been a season of hands off ministry— of office work and spreadsheets. Sometimes I wonder why ministry looks so different in each season.
I found this excerpt that I wrote less than a year ago:
I know you say not to worry, but it’s hard to not worry when I’m not the one that will be hurt
I read this and am filled again with emotion. I want to fight. I want to go into the trenches.
However, so much of fighting is planning and so much of bringing change is the slow tedious work of sharing story after story.
I pray that we will fight together for justice, but that we will never forget how difficult and tedious that fight really is. I hope we will not give up when loving the least of these looks like spreadsheets and emails. I hope we will not lose heart when we tell the same stories over and over again with no response.
And I hope that most of all that we will never forget that God is justice and we are not fighting alone.