I remember one girl, an orphan now, but at the time she was the oldest daughter of a prostitute and crack addict. Her name is Kimberly. Her mother, the drug addict and prostitute, whose nickname was Muñeca, (means doll baby in English), had somehow found grace in my wife’s eyes and, when she knew she was dying from HIV, convinced Katrina to accept the charge of her five children. Of course, this included the oldest, Kimberly.
Upon Muñeca´s death, the children were sought alter by the entire family. All the aunts and uncles stepped in and fought to take these children in. We thought, “What fortunate children. Their family loves them so much that they are fighting over taking care of them.” We found out soon that we were very mistaken in our assessment of the situation.
We knew that legally, the uncles and aunts would be awarded custody if we tried to fight them. Since the burden of five orphans, one of whom was retarded and severely handicapped, was more than we really wanted to deal with, we decided to let the family assume responsibility. The aunts and uncles worked it out amongst themselves and the children ended up with one of Muñeca’s sisters.
Several months down the road, we were contacted by the local office of the Department of Human Rights. They alleged that this aunt was forcing Kimberly to prostitute herself to care for her younger siblings while selling crack out of the house she lived in. The house had been owned by Muñeca and was, by right, bequeathed to the children. Furthermore, the family had only wanted the children so as to somehow take over ownership of the house and property their mother left them. So with help from Human Rights, we stepped in and took the children. Then we got approval from Tom Brian, Founder of House of Hope, for the children to take up residence in House of Hope.
The children had been through a lot; especially Kimberly. There were several discipline actions taken with her in the first year she was with us. She was caught stealing one of the vehicles, a 3-wheel machine called a BUV, and accidently running over another of the teenage children. Life with this child was like riding a rollercoaster! One day was up, the next down and then around and around and around again…
I had a hard time with all this. Like I said, when people let me down it is difficult for me to give them another chance. Kimberly would constantly hug me and hang on me; she was looking to me to be the daddy she had never known. Since I knew her past, I had resentment that showed. I didn’t want a prostitute hanging all over me! Well, Kimberly, it seems, had the capacity to forgive me even when I couldn’t forgive her. She would allow me the space I let her know I wanted, but she was always kind to me, always called me ¨Papa¨ and always respected whatever I told her.
Eventually, I came to see myself for the Pharisee I had been behaving like. It brings me to tears now, just to admit it. I had been so cold and standoffish, withholding what she needed for fear of what people may say about me. Hadn’t I ever needed anyone to love me unconditionally? Of course I had! And hadn’t I been involved in a lot of compromising issues when I was her age? I had probably done worse, and for less compelling reasons. Here I had been denying her the forgiveness and fresh start she so desperately needed while I myself would never be where I was now without having received both.
Isn’t it just like God to put people in our lives that repel us in order to show us how we are or were? Eventually, this past year, probably in an attempt to get a break from the rules and restrictions of House of Hope, Kimberly asked permission to go on a youth retreat with a local church youth group. While she was gone that weekend, she gave her heart and soul to God by accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior. The changes in her behavior began to accelerate at a rapid pace and she began to become someone we were all very proud of.
For the past year Kimberly has been working as an apprentice at a beauty salon. The main thing she does there is pedicures, since it is the one thing the beautician doesn’t want to do. She has become quite skilled at giving a pedicure.
In addition, she has been studying theology in a correspondence style Bible Institute course. Just this past month, we sent her to a 6 month YWAM ministry course where she will learn the basics of ministry, particularly pastoring, and to present the gospel in a cross-cultural setting. She has made us all take a second look and re-assess her potential.
All too often we tend to not look for the good in people and, because we aren’t looking for it, it escapes us entirely. Let me encourage you, if there’s a person in your life that gets on your last nerve, it’s probably not an accident they are in your life.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
God ordains people to aggravate us so we’ll change. Ask yourself: What changes are you due to be making in your life?
Bless you all,