Those of you who have volunteered for a JMI mission trip in the past have likely made or received a friendship bracelet. I am sentimental when it comes to receiving these little expressions of some child’s love and generally never take them off once they are tied on. If it weren’t for my dog’s sharp teeth or exposure to the corrosive forces of nature, my forearm might never see the light of day!
I got to thinking the other day about the three bracelets that are my most recent survivors, the children who gave them to me, and what they represent in my life and ministry.
The thin yellow and black bracelet was given to me by an abandoned boy in India who desperately wanted to give me his gift and share his story with me before we departed for home. At the time, I had imagined that we would partner with this program and that I would find him a great sponsor. He clearly needed a father figure, but that program wasn’t interested in exposing their kids to American influences. So my yellow and black bracelet serves as a reminder to me of the children out there who we have not or cannot reach and help.
The blue, yellow and red bracelet was given to me by an orphaned girl in Moldova about three years or more ago. Her name was Maria and I had known her for several years before that. Maria was a gypsy child with some learning disorders, a little sad but very sweet. I realized that she would be at high risk for human trafficking and promised myself that she would be afforded a place in our transitional living home for girls when she was discharged from her orphanage. After only a few months in Grace House, I was told that she had run off with another gypsy boy in town. Maria’s bracelet reminds me that, despite our very best efforts, we can no more guarantee a Moldovan child’s destiny than we can any of our own.
The band with the wooden inscription, “MOLDOVA”, was given to me by Jazgul, another young lady in Grace House. I think of Jazgul as JMI’s crown jewel. By the grace of God, she was spared a life of sex slavery when her mother’s attempt to sell her failed. She is a true gift of God…humble, faithful, kind, bright (double majoring in languages and engineering), respectful and possessing integrity that belies her years. Jazgul’s bracelet is a reminder to me that the work we do is worthy of our best efforts…that the one lost sheep is worth the search.
The Lord of the Harvest rolls his sleeves up every day and works his fields. Occasionally, he must lift his head up and look around to see who has chosen to labor alongside him. I pray that when he does, he will see your sweat-soaked back bent in his service and your arms wrapped in symbols of love’s successes, love’s failures and loves yet to be!
If you find yourself at a place where you are open to be used by God to change the life of a child (or die a little in the trying), contact [email protected] to inquire about a mission trip or visit www.justiceandmercy.org/sponsor to sponsor your very own child. We are currently accepting volunteers for trips to Moldova (June 29-July 6) and to India (September 28-October 8).