From the time we are tiny little children, we are told to share. Moms and dads, teachers, and grandparents encourage us to share some of what we have with siblings, friends, and, sometimes, “starving children in…” The Bible exhorts us to share all throughout the old and new testaments.
One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. Proverbs 11:24
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:16
Often, we are sharing out of abundance. We have a bag of candy and give a few pieces to a friend. We have clothes we haven’t worn in a long time (or no longer fit) so we give them to a charity. We have a couple of $1 bills in our wallets, beside the $10s and $20s, so we give them to the homeless person on the corner. We pledge money to the church, working towards fitting a tithe into the family budget.
What does it look like when we just share? Not out of abundance but out of love? It looks like this:
Little Alex Eduardo just graduated from kindergarten. He got the award for being curious! He also got a gift of an airplane, some cars and signage to go with it. Pamm Ferrand, from the Atlanta team, was walking by as Alex was playing and he handed her the above items. “It’s a gift!” Pamm checked several times that afternoon to see if he wanted them back. “No, it’s a gift!” Our kids don’t have many of their own toys and Alex only received one toy for his graduation. Yet, unbidden, for no particular reason, he shared it with Pamm.
This is actually pretty common at the Children’s Home. Just a couple days ago, a child casually shared part of his small pack of Smarties with me. Candy is a real treat for the kids. No words, just a couple of Smarties offered up.
This leaves me speechless. I imagine what it would be like to have a child with a life threatening illness like CF. I am certain I would hoard any medications I could get my hands on to ensure MY child had what he needed. I am equally certain it wouldn’t occur to me to share the meds that were otherwise out of reach. And yet, that is what she does. She shares out of love and trusts in God to provide. The most touching example of sharing happened twice in June, by the same person. There is a student, Andrea (center), at our school in Flor with cystic fibrosis. Dr. Ann Von Thron and Joseph Klosik (right) have become involved and are able to find CF parents in the US and pharmaceutical companies to donate meds and more sophisticated and effective equipment to help Andrea. Her mother, Reina (left), is overcome by the love and generosity shown by anonymous people in the US. As she thanked Joseph and Dr. Ann, she explained that there is only 1 doctor in all of Honduras who treats CF and meds are expensive and often impossible to get. So, despite her own very limited resources and a child with CF, she shares the meds with other families with CF children.
My experience in Honduras over and over again is that those who have nothing share everything. If they have 2, they give you 1. If they have only 1, they give you half. It makes no difference if you are poor or wealthy. They just share because that is where their heart is.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34
In the Baptism liturgy for my denomination, there is a prayer I just love for the baptismal candidate:
Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen.
My favorite part is when we pray for “the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.” I imagine the wise men experienced that joy and wonder when they had their epiphany – the tiny baby Jesus, bringer of joy and wonder to the world!
|Leafy Sea Dragon
I am also reminded of construction worker, Angel’s, answer when a team member asked how he knows there is a God. “The sun comes up!” God’s creation is filled with constant joy and wonder, if we pay attention. We open our eyes to see a myriad of beautiful flowers, the ever changing sky, the magnificence of the stars and galaxies, wacky fish in the ocean, the majestic mountain ranges, and on and on.
I have thought a lot about our two newest lambs, Daniel and Isaac, abandoned at birth. They have no idea what their lives could have been. Thanks be to God, instead their lives are filled with joy and wonder. All they know is love. These tiny babies are also are bringers of joy to all who encounter them. Can you see this picture without breaking into a smile?
Every once in a while Suzy will give me some advice: “Don’t let [situation/person] steal your joy. Her message is that joy isn’t the same as happiness. Happiness is fleeting, situational, tied to a moment in time. Joy is bigger, broader than that. It is more a state of being, a gift from God that we choose to accept…or not. Jesus doesn’t promise happiness all the time, instead He promises to remain at our side through good times and bad. More important, He invites us to follow Him into a life of love, joy and wonder…eternally.
Some people choose to live a life filled with joy and wonder in spite of circumstance. I recently met and wrote about Doña Santos. (Gracias Papa) She lives as hard a life as just about anyone. She and her family survive by digging through the dumpster along the side of the road. It is generous to call where they live a “hut.” It is really scraps of wood crudely nailed together against the side of a cliff. No electricity, no water, plenty of gaps for wind and rain to flow through. And yet, Doña Santos and her family choose to live lives of gratitude and joy. For her, like us, the holidays are a time to celebrate, to decorate, and to bring the joy of Christmas into our homes.
Despite the hardships of her life, her home is transformed into a place of beauty and celebration to share with all who pass by. She chooses joy and brings joy who pay attention.
As Brother Jim Woodrum writes:
What you’re searching for, you already know. God has blessed us with this amazing life, with eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to discern, and a heart in which to perceive the living presence of God in our midst.
My prayer for you this Epiphany and this year is that God will give you an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love Him, and the gift of joy and wonder in all His works. Amen.
Since arriving in Honduras, I have been very busy. I have two children going to Operation Smile, I had one heart patient report in, completely healed and no longer a heart patient, I am preparing for the vet team, meeting with Santa Maria Magdalena church on the building of their temple, arranging scholarships, helping to get the shoes and uniforms ready for the children in the elementary, and going forward with the work on the kindergarten. Read more in my newsletter!
Mike and Kim Miller are SAMS Missionaries serving in Honduras. They are the founders of Hope of Jesus Children’s Home, a home committed to providing protection and daily care for orphaned, abandoned and vulnerable children in Honduras. We aspire to raise healthy boys and girls to become Christian leaders by implementing our four ministry pillars of faith, family, mercy, and responsibility. Sixteen children currently live at the children’s home. They come from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds but share the need for stability and protection. Under the care and guidance of the housemothers, teachers, tutors, psychologists and the many others invested in their lives, the boys and girls have all grown significantly since their first days at the home. In time the capacity of the home will expand, and we will be able to offer more children refuge from their perilous circumstances.
Billy Crain, a southern rock music artist, and friend of the Millers visited Hope of Jesus Children’s Home in January 2017. After his mission there, he was inspired to write his 6th solo album. This album is dedicated to the children’s home. 100% of the proceeds from the purchase of “Broken Things” will go to the home.
Purchase “Broken Things” album here and support this minsitry!
One of my favorite songs is called Alaba a Dios (Praise God.)
To me it is exemplifies the Honduran faith. It is about praising God no matter what.
If you’re crying, praise Him
when you’re tested, praise Him
you’re suffering, praise Him
no matter what, praise Him
He will listen to your praises
It goes on to encourage us:
God goes before you opening the way
breaking chains, removing thorns
He sends His angels to struggle alongside you
He opens doors no one can close.
A few weeks ago, I was reflecting on the words, “He opens doors no one can close” when suddenly they struck me a new way. I had always thought about God giving us opportunities, new hope when, perhaps, a door in our lives had closed. I realized that they have another meaning and fear flooded my heart. He opens doors in our hearts that no one, not even us, can close. I knew exactly where He was leading with this new interpretation and I was not sure I wanted to follow. Really, for the first time since I have lived here, I was afraid. Not for my physical safety but, instead, for my heart.
You see, for almost 7 years I have driven the road to the Children’s Home countless times. Every time I look at a ramshackle hut built into the side of a cliff. A mass of garbage bags line the front filled with recovered trash from the dumpster in hopes of selling it for pennies to support whoever lives in there. I have often tried to imagine what life is like in there. The rain streams in through the gaps and holes in the roof and walls. Cold wind howls through them at night. Each time I wonder, “who lives there?”
Over the last few months, I have felt more than curiosity. I have felt drawn there as the van zooms by. I couldn’t stop thinking about the people and worrying about whether they have enough, or anything, to eat. Each trip past it, the feeling grew more urgent. But what could I do? I didn’t know who lived there. How many people live there? It could be one family or many families. How would I know how much food to bring? What kind of people are they? Violent men? Gang members? I would have to go with a Honduran man, I decided, IF I went at all. Most of all, I feared that if I made contact with the people who live there, they would move into my heart. The Lord would open a door that I would not be able to close. It wasn’t just about money. Food is expensive here but I figured anything I could do would help. It was more than the time it would require to shop for and deliver food. My real fear was capacity. Does my heart have room for more people? Why are you asking this of me, Lord?
On the last Saturday of October, I took the last team of the year to the airport. It had been a great week and they were filled with joy. Joy turned to dismay as we heard the announcement. All flights in and out of Tegucigalpa were cancelled due to bad weather. They were rebooked on flights leaving Tuesday! We returned to Casa LAMB in varying stages of panic. (“What in the world am I doing to do with them until Tuesday,” I thought. I had not prepared 2.5 days of extra activities!)
Suzy called and offered to come to Casa LAMB on Sunday and have a church service since the children were going to a different church. It was intimate and lovely. After the service was over, I felt a spiritual nudge and found myself saying, “Do you remember that awful hut on the side of the road? How would you feel about taking some food to them?” The team’s eyes brightened! It turns out the Lord had placed the same thing on their hearts and provided reinforcements for me, giving me the courage I needed. We went to PriceSmart and loaded up with rice,beans, flour, sugar and more. Luis, our driver, pulled over by the hut and got out of the van with us. There was a teenage boy standing in front of the hut. “Hola!” We brought food for your family!” He called for his mother. A
tiny woman stepped gingerly across the plywood bridging the gutter between the
hut and the road. She has no teeth, was
dressed in filthy clothes, and thin as a rail.
She looked at us puzzled.
“Hola! We brought food for your
family.” She looked at her son, “God
brought these gringitos to help us.” She
explained, “We had no breakfast this morning.” She broke into a broad grin as her sons took
the food inside. We introduced ourselves
and she replied, “My name is Doña Santos.”
Yep, the door in my heart was opened. I promised I would come back with more food. This afternoon, I stopped by again with Suzy and Kristen, a visiting friend of Suzy’s. When Doña Santos saw us, she recognized us, raised her arms to heaven and looked up and said, “Gracias, Papa!”
This door in my heart is not closing and that’s ok because when God opens it, He makes your heart bigger. Gracias, Papa.