Graduation Time

Man, I love this time of year! Christmas trees & lights, snow (or the lack thereof), good food, and time with family and friends. It truly is magical.

But I love this time of year for far more reasons than all the Christmas hype. I love it because it reminds me of redemption. Redemption that started with a little baby, was accomplished on the cross, and begins its transformation in us starting now, culminating in heaven.

Redemption that redefines how we live, what we live for, and what is possible.

Right now you may only be thinking of redemption of our souls, but I believe the Lord’s work also applies to the redemption of our earthly lives. We are given a new purpose and a new way of living in order to achieve that purpose starting NOW. So that our lives are slowly being transformed into the mantra “I must become less so that He may become more.”

Do you know what I love about that process? That all of sudden our “Christmas Joy” becomes so much more about what the Lord is doing and accomplishing than what presents are under the tree. It becomes more about loving others that we don’t even know than whether we were able to do a specific family tradition exactly how we’ve done it for years.

Christmas becomes what it was always meant to be: a celebration of redemption!

So with that in mind I wanted to share a few things with you today about our work in Nicaragua.

Graduating

Do you remember the family in this blog post? Long story short, it is a single mother and four little ones that were abandoned by their father. When we came alongside the family the boys were being pulled in conflicting directions.

The mother was trying to guide them in wise ways – go to school, go to church, do your homework, be safe, etc. But the other kids of the neighborhood, including some local gangs, were telling them the opposite – you don’t go to school, you don’t need to go church, don’t respect authority, take big risks, steal things, and run from the police.

Walter immediately went to work and over the next few years major changes have occurred. Slowly but surely Walter became a father figure to the children helping to stabilize their lives. He helped reinforce the words of their mother while also helping the children to see how loved and valued they are by us and by the Lord, how important a relationship with the Lord and an education both are, and how they could accomplish many things if they tried.

The change was incredible.

Danny – the oldest – was the trendsetter for the others. So when he started choosing school, church, respect, and other good virtues over the local gangs advice the other children followed suit. It was so exciting to watch as all of their grades climbed, their attendance at school stabilized, their home life became less volatile, and, most importantly, they started experiencing the confidence and peace that comes through KNOWING that the Lord loves you and wants what is good for you.

As I mentioned in the previous blog post about them, Danny graduated from primary school last year, and guess what?? The second oldest, Brandon, just graduate from primary school this December (picture to the right)!!

Not only that, but just recently Danny – the oldest – also gave his life to the Lord and was baptized!! What a glorious thing to see the continuation of the story and the change into each of the kids!!

Joy

I don’t have words for how joyous these decisions make my heart and soul. In the grand scheme of things in the world, they are small. Two boys have graduated from primary school that probably wouldn’t have, one boy gave his life to the Lord, and four children (and their mother) have grown to know that they are truly loved by their creator.

It isn’t the cure for cancer, it isn’t the end of a war, and it isn’t a billion dollar business idea. But it still matters. It matters a lot. In fact, in the words of someone far wiser that I:

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:4-7).

So as these children have found peace, found love, found their savior – and as Danny gave his life to the Lord, I have this vision in my head of Christ walking into the great company of the King of Kings, the angels, and the saints and saying, “Rejoice with me!! I have found my lost sheep!!”

And then all of heaven rejoices. All from the decision of one little boy in one little town in one little country. Sounds pretty similar to a little boy being born in a little town in a little nation a long, long, long time ago to me.

God loves the little and celebrates them big. Maybe we should too.

From all of us at With One Hope, thank you to everyone that has made this possible, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

PS – if you want to give a year end gift to With One Hope – through the end of the year every gift will be doubled!!

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