Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Being the light

We talk often of 'being the light in the world', or being the 'face of Jesus' to someone. To many people, they are just words, or something to try to remember but so often forgotten.

Tonight, the two recent mission teams from our church gave presentations about their trips. We talked, showed photos and we answered questions. Running out of time, I didn't get to share a story that reminds me to always try to be the best light I can be.

Maria is in her early 20s. She's studying to be a teacher, and volunteers at the children's school. Maria was once a street kid. At 3 or 4 years old, she would be sent to the streets to beg. She needed to raise $1.50 for her mom to pay the night's rent, and if they missed the rent, they'd spend the night sleeping on the streets. For years, this is how they lived. Maria's mom had more kids and Maria learned to take care of them.

During that time, when Maria was on the streets begging and looking for ways to make a few dimes, she would see a little girl walking to school. The little girl wore a uniform and she walked across the park each day, holding hands with her mother, going to school. For years, Maria watched that child and wanted to be that child. She wanted nothing more than to go to school, the same way that little girl did.

School isn't a 'given' where Maria lives. Less than 10% of the kids might get to 4th or 5th grade, if they even get the chance to go at all. Maria didn't get the chance. She started to ask her mother, could she go to school? But Maria needed to earn money for rent, so the answer was always no, she couldn't go to school.

Eventually, Maria heard of a project that would give her a home and an education, and after more begging, she finally got permission to move from her mother and go to school. By then she was a pre-teen and entering first grade. She worked hard, she got her sisters into the project with her and now, in her twenties, she is getting her own teaching degree. What a story!

Matthew 5:14
But she remembers her inspiration, a child that she saw each day, walking to school. That young child grew up. They never met face to face so she never knew that she inspired someone and that inspiration changed someone's life. Instead of growing up on the streets, Maria had a home. Instead of repeating the life of others before her, having 4 or 5 babies by her mid 20s, she was in training and, helping others do the same.

We never know who sees us, who is inspired by us. It's important to always be the light even when we have no idea if anyone is watching.

[image source]

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