Love her like Jesus

January 30, 2009

I’d like to tell you the story of a young woman you may never meet. She’s 13 years old, and she gets $25 CAD each month to share between her guardian and herself to meet all her worldly needs. For my American readers, that’s roughly $20. She’s been orphaned, and when she first was brought to the attention of my friend, she was only 12, had already had multiple sexual partners, and was being tested for AIDS. She was fortunate enough to test negative. She’s lived with various family members, and as my friend put it, “like any typical 13 year old, she’s got a mouth and an attitude and she uses both!” She’s been used and abused, left with many physical scars from multiple beatings from people who thought she hadn’t shown them the respect they think they’re due culturally.

My friend is a missionary nurse in Namibia, serving the people there as a registered nurse, loving them even as she meets their medical needs. But she doesn’t shrink away from meeting other needs when she finds them. When she and the other missionaries there realized this young woman had no home to live in, having been turned out of another relative’s home, they enlisted the help of a translator from the village church they attend and set out to intervene. The girl’s aunt agreed to let the crazy white people, the missionaries, build a mud hut for her on the aunt’s property. The catch? While the missionaries had helped mud a hut before, they’d never built one before. Not only that, this is the rainy season. If it rained while they were mudding, or before the mud could dry and cure, the entire venture would be, well, forgive the pun, a wash. But that didn’t stop them. They enlisted the help of others, and yesterday, they went to the aunt’s property and built this young woman a mud hut. Apart from a few spits and sputters in the early morning, before the mudding, there was no rain… and as of 6 am local time, there still has been no rain.

So, what’s the big deal? Why am I telling you the story of this girl you’ll never meet, the story of a young woman that even my missionary friend will have to leave behind when she leaves the country to come home in a few weeks? Why did the story of this girl stop me where I am, here, thousands of miles away, safe in an insulated home that is in no danger of washing away in a good rain?

Simple, Beloved. God loves her. God created her to love her. She was born to be loved. Right now, there is no one in her life who can love her the way God loves her. None of her relatives love her that way. She’s just another burden to them. Another mouth to feed. None of her classmates love her that way. They beat her if she doesn’t respond the way they want her to. Everyone in her life holds her up to some standard and finds her wanting… and as if that wasn’t bad enough, they beat her and scar her young body for failing their tests. She has no one in her life that will love her the way God loves her; unconditionally, without expectation, a pure, undefiled love that can’t be perverted or misconstrued for anything else.

The story of this girl catches me where I am because I know this child. I’ve been this child. No, I’ve never been this exact child, living on less than $20 a month in sub-Saharan Africa. And I don’t mean to somehow minimize the stunning poverty and need of the undeveloped world… because absolutely, this girl’s physical needs are stunning. But just as Jesus recognized with the paralytic lowered through the roof to Him, her spiritual needs, the emotional wound in her soul, is every bit as desperate as her physical needs. And in that, she is no different than you or I are. You know her. You may have been her. But you’ve met her.

Here’s the good news; Beloved, God wants to do big things to draw her to Himself. He’s calling her name, faithfully pleading for her to come to the One who gave all He is to love her. You may never see the big things He is doing in her life, but that doesn’t mean He’s not doing them. In the case of the girl my friend knows in Africa, God has been staying the rains in the rainy season. He brought together a church and a community to give her a home. He brought women into her life to show her unconditional love, and even when my friend leaves, she won’t leave her friendless… the other missionaries will remain a bit longer. I’ll be honest, Beloved, I can’t see the way His plan will be fulfilled in her life, but in my bones, in the deepest parts of who I am, I know that He is working in this young woman’s life right now. He is doing big things to call her to a relationship with Him. Someday, she will look back, and she will see the men and women who loved her the way Jesus loves her, who were faithful to love her unconditionally until she knew how to be loved.

I don’t know if there’s anything tangible you can do for the girl in Africa… but that’s not why I’m writing tonight. If you want to do something tangible for someone in need, there are plenty of places you can do that. What I do want from you doesn’t cost you a penny… but it does cost your time and it does ask you to invest your heart in people… and that’s a radical risk, but it’s one that Christ made for us, so surely, if we’re going to be called by His name, it’s one we can take, right?

Pray for her. Pray that God will stay the rains. Pray He will protect her, not only until she can move into her hut, but also from the beatings that have marked her life so far. More than that, pray that God will bring someone into her life that will love her like Jesus loves her, with a pure love that can’t be perverted and distorted. God loves Dophelia. He wants someone to love her the way He does, someone from whom she can receive that love. And as He brings to your mind His other children, the other Dophelias, the Heathers, all of the children who feel like they have no one, pray for them, too. Pray for someone to come into their lives to show them they were never forgotten.

And Beloved, here’s the beauty of intercessory prayer: as you plead with God for someone to intervene in the life of the forgotten, He’s already answering the prayer… in you. You may not be the final answer, you may not be the tangible answer, the one that a Dophelia finally knows, but by lifting her up, by remembering her and loving her the way Jesus does (because He, too, intercedes for us before the Father, remembering us before Him), we’re already providing the answer to our prayer. And the more of us that remember her, the more of us who intercede for her, the greater the covering we place over her, the more room we give the Lord to work in her life.

Pray unceasingly. It’s all I ask. Yet… oh, Beloved, the power in that prayer, when you pray and you’re certain of the will of God. And Beloved, you can always be certain that it is the will of God that we are are loved the way He loves us! So pray, Beloved, certain that He means to answer your prayer, and watch. Because He’s stayed the rains for her so far… and I know He’s just getting started in her life.


One comment

  1. My friend sent an update at 1 pm central time, January 30th. The dry skies held, and the mud cured enough that even if the rains returned, the hut would stand.
    That’s the power of prayer. That’s the power of God. He is SO good. And He’s not done working in Dophelia’s life, I just KNOW it.

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