“My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within, my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.” Lamentations 2:11
This weeks lesson was told through the telling of stories. Our teacher, Steve Bartel, was born and raised in Colombia, but spent the first years of his adult life raising his family in California. He and his beautiful Mexican American wife Evi both received strong callings from God to work with street children in Colombia before they were even married! After waiting eleven years for God to give them the go-ahead to move to Colombia, they started a ministry to the street kids and have been working there for the past 25 years.
It was so comforting to learn so much about such a beautiful and successful ministry to children after having my entire life vision altered last week, let me tell you! Steve began his teaching by pointing out many of the stories in the Bible about dysfunctional families and people. Lot’s daughters got him drunk and slept with him in order to conceive a child and carry on his name. Mind you, this was AFTER Lot offered his virgin daughters to the lusting men of their city. Abraham sent his baby son Ishmael into the desert to die, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery after trying to kill him, babies were sacrified to Molech. I’ve always read these stories and wondered why in the world they’re in the Holy Bible, but I’ve never gone deeper into that questioning. Steve pointed out that these stories are in the Bible because people at risk, broken sinful people, MATTER to God. He’s always known the evil that we are capable of doing, but He has chosen to love us anyway. Realizing this has given me a much deeper love for scripture, instead of being slightly confused as to why the Bible contains some of the stories it does.
Something else Steve spoke to us about is the importance of the unseen parts of your ministry. Things that are seen are obvious: how many children attend your programs, the number of foster homes you run, the percentage of children who go on to live healthy adult lives. But none of these things can be possible without the unseen: how many hours a week does your team spend in intercession, what is the vision God has given you, how are the relationships within the team. He drew us a picture of a skyscraper in Colombia, whose foundation stretched equally as deep into the rock below as the skyscraper was high. Likewise, our ministries need to be rooted deep in God, or they’ll blow away in the wind.
This week has given me a lot of excitement about whatever type of ministry I’ll be doing in the future. And it reminded me that the preparation that I am in right now is equally as important as whatever I do in the future. The most important thing is to Love God, and allow myself to be Loved by Him.
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33