Today I remembered my call. I had not really forgotten it. Yet ministry is so busy and “productive” that sometimes frustrations push out a little bit of the drive. We are left with only leftovers to give.
My memory came back to me tonight at one of our Child Development Centers (CDC) located on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. We are currently undertaking an educational project there using small garden structures.
Besides meeting weekly to study the Word and share their prayer requests, 150 children from eight at-risk neighborhoods are learning how to grow healthy food in their own “greenhouse.” The 10-week lesson series ties spiritual growth with plant growing, much like Jesus did in the Luke 8 parable of the sower. The program shows kids how to live healthier lives, how to care for their own plants, and how to care for their spiritual development as well.
It is a lofty ideal, this believing that we can change the next generation of at-risk kids into healthy, educated, and thriving adults. But there are no guarantees. Drugs and gangs are right around the corner, accessible to any child who dreams of “making it big.”
Many times I feel like we are fighting a losing battle. Yet today I recalled the purpose behind a CDC as I looked into the eyes of three very dirty, frightened, and sad little girls. They were new to the small group, probably attracted to the clowns and the music. I don´t know their story, but I felt drawn to protect them, because as I looked into their veil of silence, I knew for certain that violence had already touched them.
I remembered that lives are not usually transformed by banging down doors and hauling abusive parents off to jail, nor by big Christian concerts and widespread events in a plaza. Change is much more patient. Hope is a whisper; a quiet, relentless promise that wafts around the ears of those it touches.
As I registered Mia, Karen, and Marilyn´s names in hopes they would someday have a sponsor, I felt I was jotting these girls down in a prayer book before the Lord. And as they promised to come back, I knew they would find value, safety, and love for at least an hour a week. That is the why of my calling.
And that is why you are called as well.
It is not sudden impact that will change the world; it is the slow ebb of God´s unfailing grace holding on to the downtrodden through human hands. I believe someday Mia or Karen or Marilyn will rise to the standard of their preciousness. But even if they don´t, I am called to try.
Robin Radi is a missionary for the Church of the Nazarene in Pilar, Argentina, on the South America Region.