Lifeguards

I love the ocean. The waves and the sand. The seagulls (unless they are stealing your food!) and the little sandpipers that run constantly in and out of the surf, almost playing with the waves as they roll in and out.

There are so many wonderful things about the beach and the water, but there are also scary things. Dangerous things.

We recently moved to California and we now live within 10 minutes of the beach. For two people that grew up in land-locked North Texas it is a whole new world. Within the past 8 months we have bought wetsuits, boogeyboards, beach chairs, AND a surf board!

That’s right, we are surfers now. (That is, as long as going surfing once and falling off the board every time we tried to get up qualifies us as surfers. Ha)

As we have spent more time at the beach I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the power of the ocean and how close the dangers of the water are at all times. There are the everyday things that everyone can see – the power of the waves and the giant, unforgiving rocks along the coast.

But there are also unseen dangers that are hidden below the surface. Some are avoidable – don’t swim in areas with strong rip-tides, don’t surf over shallow reefs (aren’t you impressed with my surfing knowledge!), and never, ever pull a shell out of the water and put it to your ear without checking for a hermit crab first…don’t ask…

But some are hidden and unpredictable, and those are the truly scary ones. The ones you can’t plan for. It’s the jellyfish that stings you, the stingray you accidentally step on, or the shark that decides you look like a great meal.

Hidden. Painful. Potentially hunting you. Potentially lethal.

The Shark in Nicaragua

Six years ago I met two little girls in Nicaragua – 5 and 7 years old – that were starving, shivering and scared. The picture to the right is from the day I met them. They spent their days locked in a damp, small space built out of scrap materials that leaked when it rained, had mold growing on the walls, and had once caught fire with the girls locked inside of it. If not for the random strangers passing by that day the girls would have been burned alive.

To make matters worse, as their mother faced increasingly desperate circumstances she was forced to turn to desperate measures to have enough money to even survive, often leaving the girls locked alone in their scrap house or worse – with an aunt that turned to illicit relationships to pay the bills. Through their aunt, as you can probably imagine, the type of men that were introduced into these girl’s lives were not ones that had their best interest in mind.

If life is like the ocean, these little girls knew all of the dangers and none of the joy.

When we met, they had been pulled under by the tide of poverty, they had been crushed against the rocks of injustice and abuse, and they had been hunted by the sharks of men searching for pleasure regardless of what it cost the women they used.

Their life was full of terror and it showed.

Lifeguards

Here in California lifeguards exist to help people understand the dangers they face and provide a level of protection. They are an agent of a much bigger force (the state of CA), tasked with the role of keeping people safe, but they can also help them appreciate the beauty of the ocean and the joy that it can provide. Lifeguards learn of the ocean from other lifeguards, but also from the ocean itself as they interact with it. And through that knowledge comes a responsibility.

As Christians, I view our calling to the world similarly. As each of us is first called by the Lord, we are taught of His goodness, His power, His mercy, and His grace – from other Christians and the Lord as we interact with Him and His word. We are also made aware of the dangers of the world, of sin, and of the devil himself – the great shark constantly lurking.

Part of what we learn is that we are called to teach what we have learned to others that do not know the truths we have been given. We learn that we have a responsibility to those that have not yet been trained – a responsibility to jump into the water ourselves to protect those that are most vulnerable when they are being swallowed by the waves.

Don’t get me wrong. It is the Lord and the Lord alone that saves – not us. And yes, the Lord could rescue each and every one of us from whatever danger we face whenever He wanted. But that’s not usually how He works. Usually, He looks to those He has trained and works through them.

He looks to you, to me, to all of us, with the expectation that we use the love and training we have been freely given to lead others to the protection and eternal life the Lord provides.

For these two little girls, that is where With One Hope comes in.

Using Our Training

For the past six years we have shared with you the changes that have occurred with these little girls. We shared when we made them a part of our single mother program. When they started school for the first time, when their mother was finally able to find a stable job, when we were able to help counsel her out of the guilt and grief of her past actions and towards a stable, loving future.

We shared when the Lord used a storm to forever change their mother’s heart and lead her to Christ while also providing them a new, safe home for free.

We shared as Guiselle – the oldest daughter that once was made fun of because she couldn’t read and was behind all her classmates in school – became the student with the highest grades in her class (see how proud she is of her backpack in the pic to the right?). We shared as Lupita – the youngest one – followed in her sister’s footsteps and became a class leader at major events.

Over the past six years we have shared with you as all three of them have learned they are loved by us, by all of you that visited them, and by the Lord of the whole universe. We have shared as they have learned to trust in Him, trust in His love, and trust that they have value and matter.

We shared as, in the ocean of life, they were pulled to safety, learned how to swim, learned to understand and avoid the dangers around them, and even begin to find joy and beauty in their surroundings.

But we aren’t done yet. Not even close.

Guiselle and Lupita are now 13 and 11. Guiselle is still number 1 in her class and Lupita is still a class leader. Both are learning and growing and becoming young women. Both know and love the Lord and know that they are loved by Him, by us, and by many of you.

But our work is not done.

Due to economic conditions in Nicaragua, their mother recently made the decision to move to Costa Rica to find work. The girls had to remain in Nicaragua and are now living with their aunt. The transition has been difficult for them – as it would be for any of us. But Walter has been constant throughout the change, providing instruction, counsel, and reminding them they are loved.

In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus shares with us the value of every single life. That every single soul matters and is worth looking for, fighting for, and celebrating when it is found. Often we stop there telling everyone to go find lost sheep and bring them to the flock. But the shepherd’s job doesn’t stop there. He continues to fight for that same sheep to keep it safe long after it has been reunited with the flock.

That is our job. All of us. At one point it was to find them, fight for them, and bring them to safety. Now it is to look after them and keep them secure in the love of the Lord – especially as their mother is in another country and they need a parent – a lifeguard – all the more.

Said differently, I firmly believe that even if this were the only family we helped – that if all of our other work in Nicaragua never existed or were to suddenly end and the rest of our lives were spent helping these three women – that it would be a work worth doing, a life worth living.

So won’t you join us? Won’t you help us fight for these young girls? Help us through prayer, financial support, and through helping Walter, Rene, Johana, Michelle, and myself love and lead these girls towards a bright future rooted in the Lord.

I promise it will be a work worth doing.

One Comment

  1. Gary Smith says:

    Heyy Chris,
    You are doing a wonderful job.May almighty bless you and give you good health and prosperity that you may be able to bring smile on many faces.

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