Thursday, October 28, 2010

for real grace

lives are books In What’s So Amazing About Grace? (which I read several years ago) as well as in The Jesus I Never Knew (which I am reading now), Philip Yancey relates a story a friend of his had told him:

A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter – two years old! – to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting our her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable – I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.

At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”

Yancey remarks on the contrast from women Jesus came into contact with: “What struck me about my friend’s story is that women much like this prostitute fled toward Jesus, not away from him. The worse a person felt about herself, the more likely she saw Jesus as a refuge. Has the church lost that gift? Evidently the down-and-out, who flocked to Jesus when he lived on earth, no longer feel welcome among his followers. What has happened?”

When I read this story maybe 5 years ago or so, I was horrified. Horrified by this lady and the choices she had made. But maybe more horrified by the fact that I knew she was right about the church. And I also couldn’t help but wonder, “What would my response be?”

Last week, a 5 year old girl from the Oriental Market who had attended our Niños de Vida services died. On Tuesday, Chase, Katie and I went with Pastor Antonio to her mother’s house to pray for her and give them a financial gift to help with the costs of the funeral. While there, we met this girl’s baby sister, and learned that her mother is a prostitute (as are many of the mothers of our kids). She shared a bit of her story, telling us that she had tried to have her baby girl dedicated to the Lord in several churches, but was rejected by them all. She was broken. We stood in their house, which wasn’t much bigger than most people’s bathrooms, and Pastor Antonio prayed for this family, for their loss, their desperation, and that they would trust Christ despite the difficulties in their lives. After he prayed, he took their baby girl in his arms and raised her up to the Lord, dedicating her to Christ. In that moment, I couldn’t help but praise God for grace, and how truly great it is. And for the church, who doesn’t always get it right, but sometimes they do, and when they do, it is beautiful. I don’t always understand it and I don’t always know how to (or choose to) give grace, but Christ is faithful to offer it and his supply of grace knows no end.

Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues. – John Stott

2 comments:

  1. After reading this post, I am praising God for His grace, also. I am praising Him for the love you all showed in ministering to that woman in her grief. I am praising Him that you all are there doing this good work for the kingdom of God. I am praising God that I can be a part of this ministry through prayer. I am encouraged to pray more! Blessings to you all!

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  2. I agree with Bill on all of these points. What an awesome moment with this woman and her baby that could be the lifeline she needs and turning point in her life to follow Him. I pray that it will. God's blessings on you all.

    Love, Dad

    Please give Pastor Antonio my greetings.

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