It was a rainy December day here in busy Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I was standing under a covered area just outside the grocery store, with my shopping cart and my daughter Sophia, while my husband was unsuccessfully trying to flag down a taxi to take us home. The rain was pouring, and Sophia and I stood patiently waiting, as it was extremely difficult to get a taxi due to the rain.
Then a little girl suddenly approached us. She was probably about 9 years old, and she had a sad look in her eyes. Her clothes were tattered and worn, but she was well-kept enough to show she was not living on the streets. She spoke to me, asking for some money so she could buy herself a snack.
I turned to her and asked, "Why are you asking me for money? Why doesn't your mom give you money to buy a snack?"
I then said with a kind smile, "You know what? You should not be out here in the streets begging for money. You should be at home playing or at school with your friends learning."
The little girl continued to stare at me with her sweet sad face, waiting to see if I would give or not. My heart was aching for her. In situations like these, many times I want to give, but I also know it is not always the best thing to do. I try to stay sensitive to the Lord and what He would have me say or do.
On this day I continued to talk with the girl. She told me that she lives in a nearby slum with her mom who does not work. She then moved on to others to see if she could get anything out of them.
About 5 minutes later I glanced back to see if the little girl was still close by. She was sitting with what appeared to be her mother and her older sister, eating a snack from a nearby stand. Mission accomplished. She had gotten her snack, probably as a result of her begging.
My heart was deeply saddened...
This is all to common here in Brazil. Children beg in the streets everyday here in the city of Belo Horizonte and in other major cities across the country. Children are actually often pressured to beg by their parents, to obtain food, money or other things.
I am not sure if this little girl was being pressured by her mom to beg or not, but my heart did break for her, for the situation. No child should ever be put in the situation to have to beg in the streets. The negative results of this are many...
At the beginning of this year I made the decision to read through the Bible in 2012. So far, so good! I have been reading daily and God has been showing me new things in His Word.
The other day as I was reading in the book of Luke, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, actually correcting and confronting them, about the condition of their hearts.
Jesus said, "What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things." (Luke 11:42)
This verse struck me. Jesus wants us to deeply value JUSTICE and the LOVE of GOD. He wants us to live this. He wants our lives to reflect His heart of justice and love. As Jesus told the Pharisees, yes it is good to tithe, it is good to follow rules, but we should not "neglect the more important things" which is justice and the love of God.
I examine my own heart... I don't want to be like a Pharisee. I pray God would purify me, and give me a heart that is seeking for His justice and His love. How can His love and justice be expressed through my life?
As I was thinking about all this, God reminded me of the little girl outside the grocery store begging for money.
I PRAY... I pray she would have an encounter with the love of God and that He would move in His justice in her life.
I HOPE... I hope for more opportunities to talk to children like her, to tell them of God's love - of Hope Himself.
I PLAN... I plan to work with girls living here in the slum of Cafezal. How many of them are pressured to beg in the streets? How many of them suffer the consequences of living a life of suffering and poverty?
I want to bring light into the darkness, speak God's truth instead of the lies, teach the needy about His promise of abundant life that comes from a loving and just Father God.
JUSTICE and the LOVE of GOD
We can share this only by the grace of God...
Lord, teach us...