I was recently listening to a radio broadcast, as I drove around town. The host described the need that exists in each of us---to be genuinely loved and to love others. We were created to both give and receive care. Our souls house an innate desire to give ourselves to God first, and then to others. That's the way it's supposed to work. But, so many things can stand in the way of that happening.
...Heartache comes into our lives and we give up hope of being loved.
...Tragedy shatters our ability to be vulnerable, and walls are built around our hearts.
...We find value in the wrong things, and we put the wrong One on the throne of our hearts.
...The "things of earth" become important and we are distracted from loving others well.
...We subsitute superficial relationships, trying to fill the God-shaped place in our hearts, although it never quite satisfies.
The list goes on and on, and each of us have our own stories of what has hurt us, distracted us, or left us looking for love.
The students in our program have been greatly affected by heartache and tragedy in their lives, and this is where it is most obvious---in their ability to be loved and to love others. There is really no other way to phrase that. If anything keeps us up at night, besides finding the resources we need to support them, it's this worry: They have not always been loved well, and therefore, have many barriers to receiving and giving love. We pray constantly that they find healing and wholeness in the one LOVE that is worth finding.
And, our prayer is always that God would do what He does best, discipling and leading these students to Christ, using His hands and feet on earth---people. God--through His people, His presence, and His Word--is the only one who can Love with an everlasting Love. He is the only place to find safety and rest and freedom to love others well.
Recently, our country director, Jane, had a wonderful God-inspired idea that led to significant spiritual transformation for some of our young women, as they gathered together for yet another day of discipleship. This day built upon many days before this, where these women have begun to feel the freedom of being loved by God, and the safety of loving others as well.
Yet, this day was somehow different. These are a few things that stand out to me about this Women's Discipleship Day:
1. This was formed, led, and run by loving Rwandan Christians. This is KEY to our program and to what we believe can be lasting change in these kids' lives. They need discipleship and love from the strong Rwandan people around them. We, as the Americans involved, are not the point, nor can we offer the same wisdom and discipleship. Thank you, God, that you are raising up a Rwandan church to minister to these His Chase students!
2. This day was birthed out of tragedy that has been overcome! It all began with the testimony of a woman who had been hurt in many significant ways---similar ways to our students---yet who had found Jesus, and was able to forgive those who had hurt her. She had tried life without forgiveneness and healing, and had more pain to show for it. But, when she found the one Love worth finding, the walls came down, and her life was changed forever. This strong woman was a living, breathing example to these girls of life with---and without---Jesus. And, it moved them greatly.
3. They were given the safety and freedom of sharing their pain, with adults they truly trusted. There was no agenda other than letting them share and be loved. And, the stories of chains falling off, and girls being set free from pain that had never been shared before, demonstrated the power of this day. The Spirit moves when we follow His agenda for healing His way!
4. These daughters of the King are slowly but surely finding out that their identity is not in the tragedies of their lives, or the choices they have made, or the way others have defined them. Their identity is solely and completely rooted in the one Love worth finding---the vast love of God Himself---and the freedom He gives to throw off all that hinders them, and run the race of life without the chains and heavy burdens of sorrow and guilt and tragedy. They are free in Christ, and they are now believing it.
We always hesitate to share such intimate details of these students' lives with such a public audience, so there are countless stories we never share here. But, this morning, as I was rejoicing again over the LOVE that these students are finding, I felt moved to share it.
We want you to know that what you are doing goes way beyond money. Lives are changing in eternal ways, and for that we are incredibly thankful.
But, there is one more thing.
This Love worth finding isn't just for our students in Rwanda. Maybe you are reading this and you still don't totally trust God with your heart. Maybe you, too, have been hurt and don't know how to accept love. Maybe you have put someone else in God's place in your heart, and it's just not working.
You see, we've all been broken and hurt and distracted. But, He longs to give us a Love worth finding. The love of Jesus can lead each of us to a life of freedom, wherever we may live.
"But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, even when we were dead in transgressions---it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:4-5
And, that's the fifth thing I love about this Discipleship Day. It inspired me to return to God----to allow His love to wash over me and to help me find the ONLY love worth finding---His. Return to Him again today, and ask Him to show you His powerful, redeeming love, that is FREELY given to us, even in our sin and selfishness. There isn't anything else worth more in this world.
I'm thankful that these courageous, strong, beautiful girls--and their mama Jane--reminded me of this yet again.