Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A prayer for four as they leave for Moldova

There is a place in this world, Lord, a land of great poverty and need. It is called Moldova. I know you’ve heard of it.

Orphans are abundant in Moldova. They wander the streets begging for food and searching for shelter. If they are lucky, they are rounded up and warehoused in overcrowded orphanages where metal cribs fill every room and exhausted women drop off bottles and change as many diapers as they can.

In Moldova evil men are everywhere, attracted like rats to garbage. They snatch young girls off the streets with promises of clothing and food, then whisk them into a dark underworld of prostitution, slavery, drug addiction, and death.

The terror of the moment when these girls first understand what is in store for them is an evil so dark and horrible that it causes us to quake with loathing and revulsion. It shakes our faith to its core, and we wonder where you are and why you do not protect these little ones.

For surely you must know, dear God, that this great evil is one of the foulest malignancies ever to worm its way through the stinking flesh of humanity. And it happens every day.

In Moldova.

And to this needy land, you have called four of our friends from Covenant Baptist Church.

Ben, a lawyer, who has spent his entire career wondering if you really wanted him to take care of children. He has only just found peace with his life and vocation, and now you will break his heart.

Jenny, a young nurse who works in the special care nursery of one of our hospitals. She gives herself every day to the sickest and smallest children. But you will break her heart in new ways.

Brittney and Danielle, two high school girls who live in the schoolgirl reality of America, a world of music, chores, and Friday nights. They have saved their tips and tiny paychecks for a year, and now they go into the darkness to have their tender hearts broken.

These four heard your call and answered it. They have counted the cost and made good plans. You lead and they willingly follow you.

Even unto Moldova.

What good will our four small friends be in the vast ocean of misery that awaits them? What difference can four people make? These questions are above and beyond us. Ours is to follow your Spirit and our hearts. Ours is to offer our gifts into your service. And now four of our own have given themselves in Christ’s name to the least of your children in the lowliest of places.

We do not pray first for their safety, for you have not called them first to be safe. You have called them into harm’s way, and they have followed you there. We do not pray that they be untouched by misery, for you often call those with the strongest and kindest hearts to see the world with your eyes and be broken on the rough and jagged altar of human weakness.

So we take a deep breath, wanting to be right on this, and we pray that their hearts be broken indeed, but that you keep their spirits whole. Yes, break their hearts, but let the breaking lead to a new vision, a higher calling, and a desire to serve humanity with love and with grace.

When their time of service is done, bring them home to us, freshly wounded and newly passionate. We will hear their stories and look at the pictures they took. Our hearts will be broken along with theirs.

And then we shall see what you can do with a hundred or so people whose hearts will beat…

For Moldova.

[I copied this beautiful prayer by Gordon Atkinson from his blog, Real Live Preacher. The people of Covenant Baptist Church of San Antonio are blessed to have this man as their own.]

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