What's the Point?
I had this moment about 4 years ago. Three young men had recently left our care and within months had left the apartments we had rented for them, dropped out of the Universities we were paying for them to go to, and were living in compromising situations and falling into the same habits that caused their parents to have to place them in a group home in the first place. We had tried to guide them through the process, but with roots so entrenched in trauma and the habits of those who had gone before them, we felt helpless to catalyze the transformation we desired to see. Ostensibly, we had failed.
I have consistently returned to the stories of these three boys over the years, and it has always caused me to step back and ask the question, what in the world is the point? Yes, we have gotten better over the years. We have a school and a transitional program designed to prevent such a stark drop off from ever happening again. We have more psychologists and spiritual mentors to help guide children through the trenches of life. But even if we create the most amazing school in the world and every child leaves sixth grade 100% fluent in English, even if our transitional home pushes kids through a university education and sets them up to have a career that sustains them and their families, even if foster care can set up every child in a family that loves, cares, and prepares them for their lives, will it really erase the years of trauma these children have experienced? Will any of it really even change anything if that child doesn’t know the true character of Jesus at the end of it all? Aren’t all of those programs by themselves just putting bandaids on the broken bones of abandonment and abuse all of these children have suffered? If we believe in the man Jesus, don’t we believe that it is only him that can truly heal these wounds that will otherwise derail and deform a life, regardless of how outwardly successful it appears?
It’s easy to get caught up in the language and the ideas and the strategies that we can come up with when it comes to our work. What we are trying to do in Huehuetenango is relatively unheard of in this context and requires a lot of what ifs and conditional statements. Things can seem like they change a lot, even from the outside looking in, but more than anything the circumstances and nature of orphan care is constantly shifting. What never changes is Jesus, and that’s why we’d be fools to not anchor our mission in him. Every case will look different, but the desired outcome should always be the same, and it should never be ultimately measured by language level, job title, or income statements. It should simply be measured by the extent to which a child knows Jesus once they leave our care. Nothing else.
This extends to all of us. If we aren’t working from a place rooted in Jesus, where are we working from? A need to prove ourselves worthy to God? a desire to present ourselves as “good missionaries?” We simply become positional Christians who are burning out in an unfamiliar context, trying to save others while our own hearts are groaning. And for you? If you aren’t giving from a place rooted in gratefulness and love for the Lord’s provision in your live, Why are you giving? To scratch the itch of a works based Christianity? Sure, this is an explanation of what makes us tick here at Story but also a encouragement to the body - do the heart work necessary before you get involved outwardly with the work God is doing on the earth. When we start “doing” in order to look like more of what he made us to be, we’re missing the whole point. We were designed to first be still and know that he is God, that we are his children. And from there we “do."
Story’s new vision is complex and big. it includes a lot of moving pieces and potential. But the important thing to understand is that is centered around a deep desire for Jesus to be at the center of it all. Without him this is just a bunch of what ifs, maybes, and look what we dids. With him we have faith that his will shall be done, and that lives will be changed as his spirit is poured out on this community. Without him we have a really pretty website, a video with drone footage, and a bunch of programs that may or may not work. With him we have certainty that his kingdom will come, his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. That has been, is, and always will be more than enough.
As we move forward, find comfort with us in the message of Acts 5:38. Paraphrased, it says that if these people are planning and doing all these crazy things on their own, it won’t last. But if it is from God, nothing will be able to stop it. If Jesus is at the center, no power or circumstance will be able to stop what he is doing. Our best is simply to yield to him and let him do what he wants to do.
This post is written by Greg Pinizzotto, our Director of Ministry and Discipleship.