by Cassie Slayter |
For ten days in August, I had the opportunity to serve alongside 17 members of my church in Managua, Nicaragua, building relationships as we completed cleanup and building projects throughout the community. In a country so ridden with poverty, one mustn’t look far to encounter need and brokenness. We stayed at La Villa Esperanza, a shelter for girls at risk of being forced into lives of sexual mistreatment to compensate for the extreme poverty of their families. When these young girls become pregnant, the cycle of poverty and oppression is perpetuated across generations. The Villa is a place where at-risk girls can grow up empowered to become educated women capable of supporting themselves.
One of my teammates voiced a challenge that we all would do well to respond to: “Go find darkness and enter into it. You'll find Jesus alive and working there. And it will change you.”
When I left for Nicaragua, I expected to see Jesus and be changed. But I never imagined how much I would mourn the exposure of an area of blindness I have carried in my life. I’ve always known that suffering and poverty exist in the world and have been saddened by it. But now the sufferers have faces. They are my brothers and sisters. All at once I became flooded with anger, sadness and guilt for the sheltered life I have lived. I had so many questions for God.
Finding myself in this place, I sought out a friend who went on this same trip last year. We wrestled with all that was clouding my mind — the injustices I’ve been blind to and the purposelessness I now feel in my relatively wealthy American pursuits. She spoke clarity into my mental mess, wisely seeing this hurt as a natural human response — and also the response of our Creator! We call out to God for the unfairness we have witnessed, to which he responds “How much more do I grieve the injustice?” We call out for the pain we feel for those we have come to love, and hear him say in response “How much more do I suffer alongside those who suffer?” The way we grieve suffering is part of our identity as people created in the image of God.
So what do we do with this pain? We let it change our perspective. It’s too easy in America to dismiss God’s presence and our need for him. That’s not because God isn’t here. It’s because — perhaps unconsciously — we think we have all we need. But when we look suffering in the eyes, how can we not reach out to God and ask why? He wants us to mourn alongside him! This knowledge makes our calling clear: Keep reaching out to God to discover what his will is in our individual circumstances (Acts 17:26-27).
Slow down your world to see God working and hear his calling for you in each moment. He is faithful to reveal it.
Contact junior Cassie Slayter at email@example.com.