After spending time with folk in Jo’burg who helped us flesh out what working with S. African children could look like, we arrived back to Ireland at the end of September and have been spending time between Dublin & Belfast over the last couple of weeks. We’ve loved getting time with people again.. and have especially enjoyed getting more time with God, just receiving more of all He has to give. Driving through Belfast today God reminded me of when I was part of a team ministering to the homeless in Belfast. One particular night we had met some children sniffing glue in the centre of town. I remember being so drawn to them & we prayed with them and spoke with them. They could see the love of God in a group of people who were willing to give them time & who let them know their heavenly Father believed they were worthy of His amazing love. That He was/is besotted with them.. in love with them.. pursuing them.. desiring their presence.
One of the christians on our team laughed at these children after we’d moved on, calling them ‘glue-baggers’.. & ‘hoods’. I became immediately impassioned. Didn’t Jesus willingly lay down his life and raise up from death for these kids? He loved them so passionately and so fully. I told my team mate that the reason he did not know how much God loved these kids, was because he did not fully understand the love God had for him. Once you know how loved you are.. the depths the Lord went to, to rescue you from the pit.. then, you know the heart of the Lord for any other lost person. Which one of us has never been a dirty, rotten scoundrel..? which of us is perfect that we can condemn another? I repented later to this christian for getting angry. The poor guy I think was left feeling a little afraid of me, however what followed was an encounter with the Lord that I will never forget.
I got home that night, still feeling frustrated & blurted everything out to the Lord. He led me to Genesis 32: 22-32 where Jacob is wrestling with God. Jacob had struggled his whole life to prevail, first with his brother, then his father in law. God came to him in such a way that Jacob could wrestle with Him successfully, yet God showed Jacob He could disable him at will. When Jacob finally acknowledged that the blessing must come from God, God changed his name to Israel “because you have struggled with God and with human beings and have overcome.” When I read these words I felt the Lord speak over the lives of the children we’d met on the streets of Belfast that night, “they are mine, they belong to me, I love them. Their new name shall be: blessed.” Jacob called the place where he had this encounter with God “Peniel”, saying “it is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Jacob’s life went on to be spared in his encounter with his brother where he could have been killed, and the scriptures say “the sun rose above him as he passed Peniel”… signifying a new day dawning in Jacob’s life.. one where he is blessed because he saw the face of God, and lived 🙂 So as we write down all of our hearts desires when it comes to further ministry with children from broken backgrounds.. we are praying that each and every child has their own Peniel encounter with the Lord & is changed forever as a result. He is so good & has such a perfect plan for each of their lives.
We have both been thinking a lot about child ‘S’ this week. She was a four year old girl who lived in Zanethemba for 2 years, and before leaving the haven we overheard her singing to herself “Jesus is my home”.. over and over. We’d taught the kids songs before but I’d never heard this one, so I asked ‘S’ where she’d heard it. She replied “whenever you put me to bed at night, after you leave the room the Lord comes and sings it to me..” (‘S’ shared a bedroom with her siblings, however she was the youngest and so went to bed an hour before them.. so she always had the room to herself before falling asleep.) We had never spoken of God to the kids, as “Lord” before.. so I was struck by this reference to “the Lord”.. her face lit up with a big smile as she continued “He doesn’t sing it when you’re there! :)”
This made me laugh, as it brought the words from Zephaniah 3 to life “He will rejoice over you with singing..” ‘S’ wasn’t the kind of child to make things up, so we knew that He really had been singing over her at night. I love that this is the heart of God for every child. I love that He desires to make His home in their hearts. They truly are beautiful, loved, blessed 🙂 We are thinking a lot, as we transition from life in South Africa to life in Belfast, about ‘S’s words: “Jesus is my home”. We want to make sure that He is at home in us.. King Jesus come take full dominion of our hearts, minds and souls and have your way in and through us, for the sake of your Kingdom, that every child, adult, family might be reached for you. Amen.