Hope and Grace

Love always hopes–1 Corinthians 13:7.

My mother fought hard for relationships that were threatening to break. As a member of the Body of Christ, she considered it her personal responsibility to fight to preserve “oneness.” She avoided gossip like the plague, but when she learned of trouble brewing in a marriage or any relationship in the church, her mama bear instincts kicked in to protect that part of the Body from severing. She reached out, asked questions, listened, prayed, offered assistance, and reassured the wounded that there is always hope.

I’m not sure my mother ever thought about what her spiritual gift was. Maybe the apostle Paul—and the rest of us—might assign her the category of “encouraging” and “showing mercy” (see Romans 12:3-9).

My mother was quiet. You may have rarely noticed her. Preparing meals; sewing sundresses; cleaning closets; inviting little ones to discover silent treasures inside her “church bag,” which caused a joyful hush in her pew every Sunday morning—none of these things drew attention to herself, but all of these things blessed the Body of Christ. When no one needs credit, Christ gets it instead.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us–Romans 12:6a.

We all want our gifts to be received graciously, even it if we don’t “hit the ball out of the park” every time we offer our gift. Is it okay with you that people “have different gifts, according to the grace given?” Is it okay with you that that brothers and sisters in your church, members of your very own Body, may offer those gifts with differing amounts of faith?

Some gifts are quieter, but who’s to say how much faith it may take to persevere in them?

Grace is the glue that keeps me—and the Church—together. We are truly one Body only when we pour grace out abundantly over each other.

Whether all eyes are on you as you offer your gift or no one sees your sacrifice, you belong. Let’s hold onto hope and keep fighting this good fight of faith together. Let’s live by the grace given to us so every member knows that they belong.

Stories from the Field CAMA Orphan Project

When Thanh was eight years old, her father died, leaving behind his wife, three young children, and his 68-year-old mother, who is blind.

Thanh’s family is severely impoverished, so her mother left for Ha Noi city to find work just after his death. She has never returned to visit her children.

Since then, Thanh has had the responsibility of looking after her grandmother and younger twin siblings. After school, she does all of the household chores. To earn a living for the family, Thanh takes on a variety of jobs, including babysitting, harvesting farm vegetables, and fetching river water for other people’s homes.

Thanh is thankful to CAMA for supporting her and her younger sister, Linh, with school tuition and rice so that they can continue school. Now a senior, Thanh hopes to pass a college-entrance exam in summer 2018. She wants to become a teacher and return to her village to teach disadvantaged children like herself.

by Mau Le, Alliance International Worker with CAMA Vietnam

 

Stories from the Field highlight the ministries that the Women of the Alliance have chosen to support.  For more info visit https://www.greatcommissionwomen.org/resource/more2/

Stories from the Field – Silver Lining Orphanage Xiao

My name is Xiao Yu and in 2011, when I was 12 years old, I arrived at the orphanage in Da Hua, China. I come from a very small village where I lived with my three younger siblings, parents, and grandpa.

Growing up we did not have electricity and our main source of income was acquired from selling vegetables. As a child I didn’t know we were poor because we were a happy family. Everything changed when my dad suddenly passed away when I was 9. I didn’t have much time to grieve because all the farm work had to be done by my brother and I. We would always cry while working and when my mom saw us, she would come hug us and then we would all cry together. I envied others who had a father because their farm work would be done much quicker.

While other families were taking breaks with their work, my brother and I would still have half of the farm field left. My mom remarried shortly after and abandoned the four of us.

I understand why she left. Our home was too poor and she had been through a rough time.

I just hope she’s happy and that her husband treats her well. Things got worse after that because I had to wake up much earlier than before to find wild vegetables and feed pigs before taking my siblings to school. My brother was 7, my sister was 3 and my youngest brother was only a couple months old. Before waking them up I would cry alone because I was so tired but I kept telling myself that as the oldest sister I should carry the burden alone.

I think my hard work paid off because when I was 12, aunties and uncles from Silver Lining brought me to the orphanage in Da Hua. It was crazy how technologically advanced city-life was and life at Silver Lining was so much better because the aunties would cook for me and even help me with my schoolwork. The hardest part for me though was being away from my siblings. I missed them so much and was so happy when they arrived at Silver Lining a year later!

Fast-forward 6 years and I’m now a senior in high school preparing to be the first person from my family’s history to attend a university. My dream is to go back to Silver Lining in the future so that uncle and aunty Yeung can go to other places to help children in need.

 

by Joshua Yeung, International worker with Silver Lining

 

Stories from the Field highlight the ministries that the Women of the Alliance have chosen to support.  For more info visit https://www.greatcommissionwomen.org/resource/more2/

Stories from the Field – Carmen

by Bob and Cheryl Fugate,
Alliance international workers to Guadalajara , Mexico

Carmen

As she did most afternoons, Carmen asked her 21-year-old son to walk to the corner store for some bread. On one such day, her life changed forever—it was the last time she ever saw him. Deep down, she knew he was another of the thousands of victims killed each year in Mexico’s drug wars. Veracruz, the coastal state where Carmen lived, is a hotbed of drug cartel activity and noted for its unmarked mass graves.

Unable to bear the pain of living in the city where her son’s life was claimed, Carmen moved to Guadalajara to be near extended family members.

One day she showed up on a Sunday morning at Breath of Life. She had noticed our signs outside, “Christian Church,” and arrived looking for hope—something to help her make sense of the tragedy in her life.

When Carmen attended one of the church’s new visitor’s breakfasts, she shared her story with the group, relaying how every weekend over a year’s time search parties had looked for her son but never brought back any news. She had come to Guadalajara to start anew and get away from the horrible memories.

Recently, the government of Veracruz discovered a mass grave on one of the local beaches that was filled with more than 250 dismembered bodies. Carmen was notified and asked to provide a DNA sample for her son to determine if his was one of the bodies.

Can you imagine as a mother being asked to do such a thing? Unfortunately, this is all too common in Mexico, where violence and corruption are out of control—there is no one to trust and no one to offer consolation or counsel.

One Sunday morning, about six months after Carmen became a part of the congregation, a small smile spread across her face—something no one had witnessed. This was the transforming power of the gospel for this grieving mom. She was praising the Lord for the peace and joy that comes with the assurance of God’s love.

As of this writing, Carmen has received no news from the DNA testing. She may never know the answers to her questions. Yet she continues to sing songs filled with the new hope and love she has experienced in Christ. Her heart is full through relationships shared in her new community of faith.

The vision for Circle of Care is to give more women, who have similar stories like Carmen’s, a safe place to share their heartbreaking stories, receive support and love during their painful ordeals, and to be a beacon of hope for transformation—even in the face of tragedy.

We are living in a broken world, and we as the Church need to do our part—no matter how small it seems—to bring hope into the darkness and see it transform one woman, one mother at a time.