Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The Choice is Ours
by Rachel Olsen
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
I watch Samantha Brown, Travel Channel host, as she explores Old Town in Ecuador's capital city of Quito. Watching her experience the charming hotels, mouth-watering food, and tropical adventures there, I'm slightly envious. But as she points out the sights of this South American city, my mind wanders back in time.
I've been to Quito. Not to enjoy the food or see the architecture, but to visit people there who Jesus loves.
As the camera pans over Samantha's head, I'm looking for the spot where I visited a single mother, Maria. She and her baby lived in one room smaller than my home office. She had a twin size bed, a chest of drawers, and a small electric stove.
On the stove she fried plantains for me. I had trouble at first with the idea of eating them, knowing they were from her very limited food supply. As Maria happily served me, I wondered if I would choose to share my food so freely if it were as scarce for me as it is for her.
Maria told me she had received Jesus, and was now receiving training in child care, nutrition and child development through Compassion International. She'd received these South American bananas from them too. I noticed Maria had a visible hope that her life and her child's life were now on a better path.
Around the corner from Maria lived a young boy who has also been touched by Jesus. He is a sponsored child. When we met, Eduardo told me he hopes to be a pastor. He quoted scripture to me from memory—he was eight.
Our meeting wasn't planned, he just happened to stop by Maria's door while I was there. After talking with us briefly, Eduardo reached into his back pocket, pulled out a small New Testament and handed it to me. Said he wanted me to have it. And he wanted me to read it.
Said he hoped it would remind me of him, so I would pray that he could become a pastor.
I didn't tell him I have plenty of full-size Bibles at home. Or I wouldn't be able to read much of that one in Spanish. Instead I took the small red book, said "gracias," and prayed over him and his future ministry. He smiled a smile full of possibility and disappeared out the doorway.
I'm certain that around the corner from Maria there are other single moms and young boys who don't have this hope. They feel trapped, depressed, maybe hungry and short-changed.
It is my prayer they will find "new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:3).
Samantha Brown discovered Ecuador's luscious fruits, famous hat-making trade, and its romantic colonial architecture. Here's what I discovered:
• We always have a choice between hope and despair - no matter what circumstance we are in.
• We always have a choice between fear and faith - no matter how bleak things look.
• And we always have the choice to give and serve - no matter how little we own.
It's Jesus - and His church at work on the Earth - that affords us these choices.
Honestly, I wouldn't trade my trip to Ecuador for Samantha Brown's any day. Even if she did get to visit the stunning cloud forest. I'm thinking we'll have cloud forests in heaven to enjoy. And I'd like to see as much of the Ecuadorian population there as possible.
I think my eight year-old friend would like to see that too. I'm certain he will do his part toward that end - will we also do ours? We have that choice to make.
Dear Lord, thank You for living hope. Thank You for living water that quenches our eternal thirst. Anoint young Eduardo to share this hope with others in Ecuador. Show me how I can share it with others too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.