We were created for community. God placed in all of us a deep desire to belong to a community. We long and even crave belonging. It’s why teenagers receive a beating for 60 seconds--coming within inches of death--to join a gang. Most of us get a sense of belonging from our families and group of friends. If we do not have that network of family friends, God has not left us high and dry. The church is God’s gift to us to who long for belonging and community.
Selena is a 16 year-old girl who does not have a mother or a father. Better put, her dad is a drug addict who lives on the streets. Selena’s mom left with her dad when she was a baby and has never spoken with Selena since. She was raised by her grandmother until last year when her grandmother became too elderly to care for a teenage girl. With nowhere else to go, Selena went to live with her aunt. But in the evenings she heard her aunt and uncle arguing about how hard it was to take her in and she felt like a burden.
Selena is an incredibly gifted public speaker. She is smart and motivated. Selena loves God but wonders why her life has been so hard. With tears in her eyes she told me that she trust God with all her heart but doesn’t understand what it means to be loved and wanted. AFE has been her only family.
Let me pause Selena’s story for a moment. In the meantime, and in another part of Honduras, an elderly couple watches the son they adopted off the streets graduate with a degree in Engineering. Their daughter is now a teacher at a private Christian school. The couple is Pastor Pedro Macion who leads a church in Catacamas with his wife Hermelinda. With both children grown up, the caring couple find themselves as empty-nesters with so much love left to give. They contacted Pastor Jeony with the proposition that if AFE ever needs a home for any student, they are available. They wanted to unofficially adopt a student who needs love and they would take on full responsibility (even financially) for their care.
So while Selena was in tears asking for someone to love her, God was preparing a family for that purpose. This Saturday, we drove Selena out to meet her new family. Selena was understandably very nervous. What if they didn’t “click”? What if she didn’t like them? Worse, what if they didn’t like her?
When Pastor Marcion first saw Selena, the words spilled out of his mouth: “My daughter. I have been waiting for you for so long.” He gave Selena a big hug and Selena began to cry again. This time the tears told a different story. These were tears of belonging and community. These tears spoke of grace, love, and God. Selena has been adopted into a family that will cherish her and make her feel like the blessing she is, instead of a burden.
One day, we who have placed our trust in Christ, will hear our heavenly father say “My child. I have been waiting for you for so long.”