31 Oct Day 21: Hope’s Heroes

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

House mom and 2 sons

I flew into São Paulo to visit Hope Unlimited, which was started as an answer to the hopelessness of street children. Most have been so severely traumatized, abused, and taken advantage of that they can barely grasp the concept of “home” or “family.” Imagine yourself at 8, 10, 12 years old, and all you’ve seen or known of adults is physical abuse. Sexual perversion. Rape. This is your absolute and definitive frame of reference.

The kids live 12 to a house. The “house parents” are the only stability these kids have known. I can’t imagine the daily overwhelming, emotional landslides, having to deal with issues and complications most of us cannot begin to understand. I stand in awe at such humility, love and commitment. I have often asked myself if I would be willing to do anything at this level. Would you? Don’t be quick to answer; I think the implications are more staggering than you think.

You see these kids, happy, smiling, full of joy… and then you think of what they’ve been through in coming to that place. The horror, the terror, the shame, the abandonment. We were told stories of how kids, 10 or 11 years old, were given to a witch doctor and locked in a closet for 40 days. Stories of rape, stories of incest, stories of abuse and abandonment.

Looking into the eyes of these kids, you would not know their dark past, their pain, their suffering and their hurt. But I know many are still struggling to cope. There are those, I’m sure, who wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, suffering nightmares of what was…
But let us leave it there. For this is not about un-ending depravity and despair. There is a bright light shining through all the muck, the sludge, the refuse.
These house parents have given every part of themselves for those that have lost any chance of regaining themselves. They have poured themselves out, they have sacrificed, they have cried. They have given HOPE. They have given it to those from whom it was violently ripped away. It is a stunning capture of grace and beauty. Of redemption. Of love.
Through the compassion and love and selflessness of these people, and through the joy in the faces of these children, I am affirmed even more in my belief in God. It is at once overwhelming, captivating and intensely beautiful. I challenge you to consider the weight of this sacrifice. I, for one, am forever changed by it.
by Jeremy Stanley

Father, we thank you for our house parent heroes. It is easy for us to talk about loving one another as you love us, but our house parents truly understand the challenge of that kind of love. Thank you for their hearts for you and for our children.