Grace from His Fullness

Sitting there in the corner of that little 500 square foot house, I looked around the room at the little faces of the kids that had gathered together that Saturday afternoon, almost thirty of them. It was hot and cramped and little two-year-old Francisco was not happy that his mom had brought him there.
Taiwani sat next to Mariclene and my mind went back to when they ran the streets together. They were like the dynamic duo, stealing fruit from the trees in our back yard and throwing mud at the house when we said it was time to go home. Now Mariclene has been part of our family for a year and a half this month, and oh how she has transformed. But Taiwani still wakes up to the same troubled house she lived in when we first met her two years ago. The stories I know are horrific.
I see the others. This one being raised by her elderly grandmother because her mom didn’t want her and her dad got remarried and his new wife didn’t want her either. This one who will likely not make it to thirteen before she has a baby of her own because all of her four sisters before her have walked that same road. This one who is so selfish and overbearing because her parents give her every last thing that she wants because it’s easier than teaching a child. After all, no one ever taught them.
Then there is little Chico who stands outside the doors all wide-eyed. He refuses to come in because he prefers to “run the streets”. He’s five.
There is Rafaela who has the sweetest little timid voice and I swear she hasn’t grown an inch these last two years. Her dad is a drunk, but her mama, who can’t read a single word and asks Rosa to count her money because she doesn’t know the difference, works hard to provide for her and her brother and sister, always smiling as she walks several miles to work and back.
And so many others sitting there laughing and coloring and listening and learning. I know pieces of their stories and this room feels so much smaller.
I feel so much smaller.
It’s always made me a little uneasy when I have people tell me that the ministry we do is “amazing” or “incredible” or “awesome”.  
To me it feels heavy and not enough. I feel inadequate and overwhelmed by the needs. I look around and I think, “We could never do enough to change-really, really change–this town.”
I know how weak I am. I know my own faults. How many days I just want to go away, back to the comforts and familiarities of my homeland. Imperfect, unable.
I know Rosa’s family struggles. I see the personal battles she faces and I watch as the “church” criticizes her every move as she seeks to be faithful to the calling He put in her heart twenty years ago. Imperfect, unable.
I know the financial needs. The funds are limited and I feel like we aren’t doing enough but a dollar only stretches so far so we have vitamins to supplement the physical lacking and prayer to increase awareness. Imperfect, unable.
I know the stories of these littles as they file in and out on Saturdays. I know many of the houses they go back to and I wonder, “Does this really even matter?” Imperfect, unable.
And then I hear it. When I step away from myself and all this imperfect, it’s there. That still, small voice again that faithfully reminds me:
“I AM enough.
I AM sufficient.
I AM here.
I AM at work.
I AM the Creator of all things.
I AM the Sustainer of all things.
I AM amazing.
This IS amazing. Because of Me.”
{Or, in the words of Francis Chan, “God says, ‘This is MY party and I invited YOU!’”}
And so I applaud this ministry and say at the top of my voice that YES! this ministry we are a part of IS amazing. YES! the work we do here IS amazing.
Because we are so very weak, but He is so very strong.
Because we can’t see past this difficulty or that obstacle, but He holds the future.
Because we are so far from perfect in our endeavors, but He sees the intentions of the heart.
Because… Grace.
“Indeed, we have all received grace after grace

from His fullness…”
John 1.16

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