who can you trust?

Years ago a young man was caught red handed with stolen mission property. They court case ensued and somehow he got off—that somehow had to do with his dad spending a fortune.  He was lucky and ended up pursuing his education. He is now a vice principal at a high school. 

I’ve never heard another report of him stealing. But he is far away from here. I met him the other day at a funeral and greeted him. But in my heart I still hold big doubts about his past. That type of thing is not easily undone.  I think I’d feel better if I knew he had done his time for the crime.  But all in all there is that pain of being taken advantage of by someone you trusted.

Today I gave some young people a job to raise money.  Some of them have pasts that are not of good report.  I once again felt that twinge in my gut about having them near my house and wondered what they would be taking stock of for later. 

Yet we have to trust, we have to love our enemies, we have to minister to the ones that need Christ. 

Tonight a neighbor’s son was mugged and beat up walking between two villages. I went to help and had a kid in my car who is a known thief. In this situation he was on my side, but other days I wonder if I’ll find he has robbed me blind .  I stood side by side with a thief as we looked for evidence against our unseen enemy in the dark.

I find it so difficult to mix grace and mercy with justice.  I have no idea how God can do that! How can He love me or you or any of us. We should have had that guilty sentence against us, but He forgave because His son paid the price.

How can I forgive those that I still don’t trust?  How can I trust those that have wronged me in the past?  How can I protect the things God has given me for my ministry and yet show love?


a friend in need

It is complicated to know when to help and when to just listen.  In another culture it is more complicated because of different traditions and cultures of the area.  Sometimes you have to make a judgment call and then later you are criticized for that whether by other team members or by nationals.

When a friend is in need you want to help. But if you give too much money you cause dependency.  If you don’t give enough sometimes someone will die because they need medical attention. 

In my host culture I find that spousal abuse is normal. How frustrating.  But they do have limits.  When it gets out of hand what can a woman do?  She huddles in the corner protecting her infant as he beats her in his drunken rage.  Later she may even find the courage to fight back if she is strong and he is weak. But in the end he begins to get more and more angry especially when he’s drunk.  the next thing will be an axe or machete or something to threaten her life.  The local government does little to help. You can have a case and then he gets a lecture but usually these things are resolved in big family councils.  The most she can do is maybe run home but then he will get the rights to the kids.  They will remain in the home to be beaten and starve.

So she stays and endures it.  I want a better justice system that will prosecute him. I want a justice system that gives her rights, I want a place for her safety.  But all of this in the hands of the Lord.

There are so many extenuating circumstances but women’s rights are limited.  Polygamy is okay so he can just sleep around and never be punished. If she does so once it has dire consequences. Now she fears for herself and her children because of AIDS.  Yet what can she do?  Only trust the Lord.