Matthew 5:16 - Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.
While in Ecuador last week I met a few brilliant examples of the shining lights that Jesus is talking about in Matthew 5:16 above.
The team on the ground in Ecuador made up of a mixture Americans and Ecuadorians that have given up a comfortable lifestyle to transform the lives of people living in extreme poverty & oppression.
They invest their lives to help kids living in child-headed homes where the parents are likely still alive but have deserted the family in search of the temporal bliss of drugs and alcohol. They take in street boys who have decided that life in a cardboard box is easier than living in a home filled with violence, domestic, verbal and substance abuse. They care for barely teenage girls who have been stripped of their dignity by being forced to turn tricks in brothels for a few dollars.
They are investing their lives using love, discipline, wisdom, hope and practical empowerment that are birthed out of deep prayer and a rich relationship with God.
And it is our privilege to be able to be a small part of their great work by selling products that bring dignity and hope to former street boys and underage victims of trafficking. The transformation they are working towards is not just a goal, it is reality. Miguel, the project coordinator of the jewelry project, is a former street boy that has overcome the challenges of his childhood to bring hope to others working to overcome similar challenges. He is a role model and is providing excellent leadership to the project as he trains these young survivors and overcomers in the art of Tagua jewelry.
My experience in Ecuador was rich and, as these trips typically are, disturbing. Not disturbing because of the despair I saw, rather, it was disturbing because I saw how possible real life transformation is. Disturbing because I know that transforming the lives of the deeply wounded is not easy and this life change is hard won by the few that are willing to fight the powers of darkness for it. Of course those that are willing to fight for it get the unspeakable pleasure of seeing lives redeemed, restored and reclaimed for God's glory.
This experience/disturbance has caused me to ask a few introspective questions:
- How bright is the light of my good works shining?
- Are my good works shining a light on myself or Jesus? and
- Am I willing to make the long-term sacrifice that is necessary to be used by God to redeem and restore lives?
Below is a prayer for myself and anyone that who needs help as desperately as I do:
Teach me to clothe myself in the Holy Spirit rather human flesh
Show me how I can use my gifts to shine a brighter light on you
Humble me so I may learn from each person that crosses my path
Give me patience in the face of discouragement and perseverance
to run the race you have set before me
Remind me to pray without ceasing and cast my burdens on you
To You alone be the glory