We were in a van – the three of us – A, Joel and I. The morning sun was gentle on our cheeks as we drove on this dusty country road. We waved at cows; danced to the blasting music and simply enjoyed the little short ride together. Watching the two boys with wind-swept hair in the front seats having a time of their lives filled my heart with joy, especially when we are constantly reminded of brokenness around.
Having been in Moree for a little over three weeks, Joel and I have come to realise that the brokenness runs deeper than what we see. At the initial glance, it is a quaint little town with charming country houses and amazing artesian pools. But the more we get to go out into the “other” part of town, where we have been warned frequently not to go near, the more we understand why a Christ-centred ministry is so needed.
The other week, we went to the community day, where plenty of organisation stalls introduce their services, programs and resources provided for all kinds of people in need. The poor. The disable. The addicts. The youths. Even the suicidal. They offer a great range of activities that I have no doubt can make a positive impact.
But a program cannot simply fix the problems here. They can definitely provide steps to break away from the cycle, but the person needs to want to change to start; to recognise that there is a better way of life. The issue here is stemmed from an unrepentant heart. People are victims of it.
Who could explain to me how a 12-year-old girl came to be using drugs and could look like she was bearing the weight of the world? Who could help enlighten me why a young boy would look me in the face and throw the perfectly good bun on the ground when that might just be the only warm meal he had on the day? What about the druggie who grew up just like any other kids, but now cannot even manage to care for his own laundry?
Yesterday, we had a real encounter with four local kids, who bitterly reminded us why we decided to follow God out here. They were demanding, taking advantage of our offer and being completely rude in our own home. As we were pulling out of the driveway to drop them off, they had a change of mind (for maybe the 3rd time in that hour), we let them go and decided that if they came back, we would not do their bidding this time.
It was a hard decision, but we all needed to learn boundaries. When to say yes, when to say no. In the back of my mind, I kept wondering if they would be safe on the street.
As we reflected afterwards, feeling rattled, we asked among ourselves how they came to the point where they are full of anger and try to manipulate their ways in this world. And I am talking about 10-13 year-old children. Their rude manner made me want to lose all my Christian ways and just kicked them out of the door. They deserved it…
But so did I.
I was exposed to the fact that I am just as broken, manifested in different ways. I may be better at hiding my emotion and being pretentious. But I am just as much of a sinner who needs grace and forgiveness as those are. Though I do not go out and do all the hard-core stuff like getting drunk, selling myself, or killing others, the ways I sometimes indulge myself and entertain certain thoughts are just as sinful, if not worse.
This morning, God reminded me through Proverbs 10 that, “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” It is so easy to react to people’s behaviour. But Jesus challenged us by the idea of loving our own enemies because that is where love is most needed. So as we prayed for them, we asked God to soften our hearts for these children; and for love to reign so that they will see Christ through us and know that they are forgiven and loved.