2 Corinthians 5:18 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
I have never lived anywhere for more than four years at a time. When you know you won’t be in a town for long, it’s easy to take a match to all the bridges that lie between you and someone it’s not so easy to love. I was a professional at cutting ties. By the time I was on my own and starting my college career, I was ready to eliminate anyone from my life that wasn’t on the same page as me. I was bitter, angry, and hurt.
I was so jaded by transition that “everybody leaves” became my mantra. My heart was drowning in anger and resentment from past hurts and misjudgments. I found myself cynical, skeptical, and critical. My time working with exploited women also left me with a sinister impression of men.
Thankfully, God knew better.
The Father was beginning the groundwork for my summer of reconciliation, but it was not until I came to work at the Project Rescue US office that true restoration began. There’s something about this place – The Spirit is welcome in this ministry. When we ask the Spirit to come and dwell, He does.
It was my second week here, and we were in the middle of orientation for our interns who would be going overseas to serve at our affiliated sites. I was asked to share about my experience serving Project Rescue in southern Asia, and to impart any advice to the interns. I was woefully unprepared. By woefully, I mean that I did not remember I was sharing until I drove into the parking lot that morning. So I simply asked the Holy Spirit to speak, and he did.
Are you sure, Lord?
I looked at these women in front of me eager to serve and change the world for the Lord. They have a heart for the broken and oppressed. I knew what they were about to see and experience. I managed to say something like this:
“Your time serving will change you forever. You will not be the same. The stories you will hear, the hands you will hold, the prayers you will give and receive – people will not recognize you when you come back. It will not, however, always feel amazing. You will not always get along. You will not always want to love the people you’re working alongside. Be a vessel of reconciliation anyway.
How are we, as ministers of the restoration and hope that the Father brings, supposed to urge these women to be reconciled to one other, to their family, and to God, if we as servants can not be reconciled to one another? In this we must lead by example. As disciples and followers of Christ, we are called to be reconciled to one another.”
Then, I remembered. A few short years ago, on a dusty street, in a cramped room, I remembered little girls weeping in prayer that their mothers would be free and know Jesus. I remember a 12 year-old grabbing my hand, pulling me next to her, and saying “let’s pray for my father.” Her father, who had abused and manipulated her and her mother her whole life. She wanted to pray. I could not help but watch out the corner of my eye as she wept for this man who had caused her so much harm. I knew nothing of true and unadulterated prayer until I heard a child that was raised in a brothel pray. It changes you. There’s something about kids that have known such abject suffering and oppression – when they come to the Father it’s sincere and it’s revolutionary. They shake the throne room of heaven with their prayers.
Who am I to burn bridges and harbor grudges, when these children, who have been hurt, betrayed, wronged, and have suffered more than anyone I have ever met, can sincerely weep and pray for their exploiters? When they show me their scars, I realize I know nothing of hurt, know nothing of pain, of betrayal, of disappointment. Hurt for me usually means someone didn’t make me feel “good”. They have truly and sincerely suffered – but the fruits of the spirit in their life – it’s incalculable. It’s beyond words. What forgiveness.
And just like He did and is continuing to do with the hearts of women and children that have been victimized, used, mutilated, and betrayed, he is restoring my heart. Where there was once loneliness, betrayal, and resentment, He is making all things new. I am a part of a church family, I am reconnecting with leaders and peers I had written off, and I have more brothers in Christ (that love, support, and protect me) than I know what to do with. The Lord is healing my heart. This has been the summer of reconciliation. The fruits of my restoration are evident now, but the seed was planted years ago. In a crammed room, shoes at the door, sun beating through the window, a heavenly host of little hands reaching toward heaven, and me, weeping in awe. What an example of hope. This is the ministry of reconciliation
After years of serving with her parents at a Project Rescue affiliated site in Southern Asia, Grace is now serving as a summer intern in the US Project Rescue Administrative Office