Seeking Justice

This is a hard post to write. I’m going to (try to) be transparent. I’ve been home for a week from Guatemala and have had some time to reflect. I didn’t go to Guatemala with the intentions of limiting what God would do in me, but some where along the way that happened. I didn’t go with the attitude of humility or excitement of the first trip. Not that I was (intentionally) overly proud, but I think part of me “knew” what to expect in the experience. And so God had this pre-packaged version of the trip that I gave Him.

Fortunately, our God redeems. He takes what we give Him, smiles, and gives us back so much more.

Jami

I wrote about meeting Jami while we were there. I was so completely caught off guard by that moment. Honesty, that moment revealed an ugly truth about my heart: I can be nearly scientific in maintaining emotional distance and not engaging with people’s stories on a vulnerable level. I use the excuse that I’m not a “people” person, but truth be told, I don’t want to be vulnerable myself. By playing a simple game of catch and smiling through my awkward Spanish skills, God opened my heart enough to this experience to break it.

Despite being home for a week, that experience remains fresh, my heart remains broken.

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One thing that struck me on this trip is the scale and complexity of the problem of poverty. I was, in a word, overwhelmed. Our world is so very broken because of sin. Poverty and the inequality of the “system” is a symptom. What is more challenging is that by serving Jami and her family, the story of the poor wasn’t something I was reading in a magazine or on a blog, but something that personally affected me. I looked into her eyes…and I saw a person who by merely being born in Pastores, Guatemala lived in a house made out of particle board with no running water or electricity and who did not go to school. And who didn’t own a toothbrush.

That humility that I didn’t “pack,” showed up in a hurry.

Even though my human heart is overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of the problem of justice, I know that our God doesn’t turn His eyes from the poor. He actively pursues not only justice but honor for the poor.

“He raises the poor from the dust,
He lifts the needy from the ash heap
To make them sit with nobles,
And inherit a seat of honor;
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
And He set the world on them.”

1 Samuel 2:8

Jami now lives in a new house, with a locking door. Her family has a water filtration system that makes even the most polluted river water drinkable. She has a toothbrush, and toothpaste. Because God remembers her. Her name is written on His palm. He has a plan for Jami.

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The experience has circled back to this question for me: What does it mean for me to seek justice? What does seeking justice look like for me (and for our family)? While God doesn’t need me, per se, He wants me to be part of His plan and His work. So what does that look like for me?

I am completely humbled by the fact that God chose to use a little girl in Guatemala to bring me back to my knees. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. I am grateful that God used you in this opportunity. Thank you.

 

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“We died before we came here”

I read this story the other day:

When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”

And now I’m asking myself, How do I live that way? How do I live with such abandon that the cost doesn’t matter? How can I make that translate to my every day life? I don’t think God has called us to live in another country, but I want that sort of perspective where God has planted me here.

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

The Apostle Paul
(Acts 20:24)

Unpacking the Trip

The last couple trips to Africa have left me disoriented when I returned home. Not only did I have to unpack a duffel bag full of laundry, but I had to unpack my experience , which took months. (Thankfully the literal unpacking only took a day…).

However, when I went to get Ephrem from Africa, I didn’t have a chance to unpack what I saw and experienced while we were there. I was doing the up-five-times-a-night thing. And the settle-into-our-new-life thing. And the you-can-do-the-employed-momma thing. I had these memories and experiences that had to be unattended while I gave emotionally to our family. There were no emotions or time to unpack the experience. And I felt okay with that. Becoming a parent through adoption was intense. (I’m sure becoming a parent period is intense…) I needed to focus 100% on our family.

But now we’re settling into a sense of “normal” and I’ve started the task of what all of this meant….or means.

One of the biggest reasons I went to Africa to bring Ephrem home was to capture any little piece of his story I could. So on Saturday after I arrived I found myself in a car, with Ephrem on my lap, traveling to the orphanage the originally cared for him. While I’ve visited a number of orphanages through my mission work so I knew what to expect on some level, I knew it was going to be a different far more personal experience because this place had a part in our son’s history. I would get to see where he slept, to meet the person who cared for him, see the children who lived there with him.

The visit was brief – just long enough for me to meet one of the orphanage workers, take a few photos for Ephrem’s life book, and meet some of the children who were there. But it was long enough to wreck me months later.

Because I am haunted by the children who were left behind that day.

I cannot stop thinking about them recently. I’m haunted by the idea that many or most of them won’t know a family. I’m haunted by the sad eyes of one little girl. I’m haunted by the poverty and vulnerability of the children, who likely only eat once a day if that. I only spent a moment with them, but they left their little fingerprints all over my heart. And I can’t seem to move on. More importantly, I don’t know that I want to.

But it’s left me with questions. Many questions.

When we ask God to break our hearts, and He does, what does that mean for everyday life? What does it look like here, when I can’t be in Africa? What does it mean for me now? How do I do what I can, where I am now, with what I have?

I’m unpacking the trip. And more than ever, I don’t see my world being the same again.

Josh Wilson “I Refuse” from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo.

A Fundamental Change

Before Africa.

I think I remember my world before Africa. Some days it feels like a shadow, like a dream that I awoke from.

I believe my world was smaller. I believe it was more about me. I think even though I believed in justice, it wasn’t something that kept me up at night.

I remember that.

All that changed the moment I stood on African soil. The moment I looked into deep brown eyes and felt hands so quickly grab mine own. The moment I really saw what “fatherless” really meant. The moment that I understood poverty, not from a statistic, but putting rice in a bowl to serve to a child. The moment we decided that we meant to parent first through adoption.

Here’s the secret they don’t tell you about mission trips or adoption: It creates a fundamental change in your world. It causes you to lose sleep over the fact that there is significant injustice in our world. It causes you to wonder what you can do to be part of the change in our world. There’s a critical change that you experience that reorients your world.

All those verses about justice? They make sense.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah

Thus says the LORD,
“Preserve justice and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come
And My righteousness to be revealed”
Isaiah

Thus says the LORD, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
Jeremiah

When we had the opportunity to give our adoption testimony at church, the worship leader led the church in “The Solution” by Hillsong United. It was the first time that I heard that song. I was absolutely mesmerized by the lyrics (which was a bit of a challenge right before we had the opportunity to speak…). It reminded me that I can’t just sit idly by and not make a difference anymore. Now that I know, I am responsible.

This honestly keeps me up at night. The idea that by virtue of “luck”, I was born in the U.S. does not excuse me from not doing something about the basic inequality that exists in this world that we share with 7 billion other people. As one of my heroes once wrote,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – MLK, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

There’s no good reason that 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. (Global Poverty Project)

There’s no good reason that since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, almost 60 million people have been infected with
HIV and 25 million people have died of HIV-related causes. There’s no good reason for there to be 14 million orphans due to HIV/AIDS. (With anti-retroviral medications, HIV/AIDS is considered a chronic, but manageable disease. These deaths are now inexcusable.) (UNAIDS)

There’s no good reason why 3.5 million people should die due to water related disease. (Water.org)

There’s no good reason why we continue to allow an estimated 1.2 million children to be trafficked every year are a victims of sexual abuse or slavery. (Love146)

Because where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.

If these sorts of statistics keep you up at night also, check out any of these organizations and help fight injustice:

World Vision
Lifesong for Orphans
Brighton Their World
Love146
Charity Water

(This list is not exhaustive by any means- there are many other great organizations out there as well!)

Gettin’ “To All the World”!

I’ve had a few friends ask to how fundraise for a mission trip, so I decided to write a post about it. To make it more accessible, it’s listed as a page under Isaiah 1:17 and Missions. (If you hover your mouse over the top bar, a drop down menu should appear and you can get to it from there.)

But since you’re here already, this is the link: https://beyondinspired.wordpress.com/isaiah-117-missions/funding-a-mission-trip