We’ve been back from Guatemala for almost two months now. Tim and I are still so grateful to Lemonade International for welcoming us in to such a special place. We continue to process what God had for us there, but these lessons on faith keep rising like sediment in my thoughts.
The Lord used my ignorance.
This was Tita’s response to how she first came to this violent place. The Lord led her in to find a gang member who had been at the hospital where she volunteered. She didn’t realize it was ‘The’ La Limonada – an infamous Guatemalan slum synonymous with danger and fear.
This has filled my hope to no end. There is no questioning how God has used Tita in the lives of many. She has embodied the love of Jesus in ways I long for. She has been a peacemaker, done justice, loved mercy and walked humbly with her God. But she would say God had made her with a mind that raced and dreamed, without always thinking ahead. He used what some could critique as the very thing that brought her to where he wanted her. She was simply surrendering her whole self to his leading. I am full of weaknesses. I only ever think ahead and often miss the present Tita savors. I’m quirky and get lost in trails of thought ever contemplating the why’s and therefore’s of life. But God can use all of these things not just inspite of my quirks, but through my quirks to embody Christ to this world. The Lord used Tita’s ignorance to build a 19 year ministry to this community.
Lord, use me.
Love Always Hopes.
Tita demonstrates hope-filled love to those who are desperate for it. She perseveres in hoping for a better future for each of them. One gang member recounted, “Tita asked me what she could pray for. I started to cry and told her I wanted a job.” She prayed faithfully and would not lose hope for his future. He could leave the gang, he could receive forgiveness, he could choose life, he could get a job. And he did. Not every story has had a happy transformation like this one, but Tita expresses love with hope to everyone she meets.
Lord, express hope-filled love through me.
The Lord is so merciful.
This was a direct quote from Tita as she shared about the extremely difficult circumstances of those living in La Limonada. As she stated something so simple and straightforward, tears came to my eyes. Yes, God is merciful but what if I get my theology wrong? What if my life is inconsistent with what I’ve claimed to believe? What if I’m struggling to trust? Will God still be merciful?
Lord, you are so merciful. Run out to meet me with mercy.
Refuse to be Enemies.
Tita refuses to see anyone as an enemy (to borrow the themes Tyler Wigg-Stevenson points out in his incredibly excellent book “The World is Not Ours to Save”.) She sees even the child abuser as one wounded, desperately in need of God’s mercy and love. Even when she has to wrestle with bitterness against them.
This was deeply convicting for me. As American Christians, we frequently make permissible and almost expected to make some the enemy. Those of a different political party, religion or value-system are our enemies. Of course, we light up in our righteous indignation. We are right. They are wrong. If they are not our enemies, we are clearly not people of deep conviction.
But Tita follows the way of her Jesus who came to seek and save the lost. She embodies the words of a beautiful modern hymn posted below. “Our call to war, to love the captive soul, but to rage against the captor.” It is my prayer for us to seek, love and point to the one who can save the captive soul while refusing to make any the enemy. Where would we find Jesus today? In Guatemala sitting on a bed-bug infested mattress in a tiny shack listening to the story of someone marked with the tattoos that represent the theft and violence they have been guilty of? Offering an embrace and kiss to those who are enslaved to their own self-destruction?
Lord, love all through us.