There are a few things that we take for granted. For most of us, although life, in general, is never easy and each of us faces challenges, growing up involved love and encouragement. A few of us may have had bad experiences, but most would say they had people who loved and cared for them in some way. Since starting our ministry here in Brazil, we have encountered people who are not just seen as untouchable and unloveable, they also see themselves as such.
We recently met a man named Gerson. He is 29. After being abandoned by his mother aged 6, along with his younger brother, they lived in an orphanage for a couple of years until his blood uncle gained custody. However, what was meant to be a homecoming, became their worse nightmare. They were brutally beaten and made to eat their own faeces on a regular basis. The abuse lasted a few years until the younger brother had enough and ran away from home, never to be seen again. After a while, Gerson could not take it anymore, and by age 14 found himself homeless dealing drugs to survive. When he was 18 he was arrested and sent to prison for 3 years. He has been on the road, walking from city to city ever since.
After a long time wandering, with the stars as his friends and the skies as his roof, we met him outside our church. He was greeted with a warm hug, offered a drink and some food while he told us his story. He was begging to be sent to rehab. Crack had taken its toll, prostitution had become a way of surviving and he was tired. He wanted and needed help.
When we heard his story we could not help but help, so we filled in a form gathered his paperwork and found him a rehab place. Within 3 hours he was no longer homeless. God opened every door… it was amazing! This precious life had been wandering, searching for a home, from city to city across this vast nation, until he arrived here in Goiania that very afternoon. God brought him here.
One of the things God told us to do in our ministry in Goiania, is to treat every person we encounter as a long-lost friend. To treat each person with the same dignity Jesus treated everyone he met. So that is what we did, and as we did this Gerson kept saying: “Why are you treating me as someone important? I am not important.” We, of course, kept telling him how important he is to God and to us, and how Jesus died for him. He just could not accept it.
Blaise Pascal writes:
“Returning to himself, let man consider what he is in comparison with all existence; let him regard himself as lost in this remote corner of nature; and from the little cell in which he finds himself lodged, I mean the universe, let him estimate at their value on earth, kingdoms cities, and himself. What is a man in the Infinite?” (Pascal, Pensees, Loc 457, Kindle Edition)
Indeed, who is Gerson in the infinite? Indeed who are we in the infinite? Why help one person, while thousands of others remain without help? Why is he important? Why are we important?
The Psalmist writes:
“1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
He is important because God thinks he is. He is important because he was fearfully and wonderfully made. Because God knows his suffering and cares for him. He is lost in the infinite but has been found by grace. And grace, in turn, baffles us. As small as we are; the creator of the universe became small like us, lost in the infinite of the universe he created, to tell us that we are HIS. Thank goodness for Christmas! Thank God for Grace!
Gerson is important. We are important. You are important. All because of Grace!
P.S.: Gerson is doing well in rehab. He has been enjoying a roof over his head and is slowly getting to grips with forgiveness and love. Please pray for him.