“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story – those He redeemed from the hand of the foe, those He gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south." Psalm 107:2-3
Brown skin, light-blue collared shirts, bright eyes, and big smiles - the girls breathed a sigh of relief after singing a song of greeting to our team of four. Grins and giggles were the result of initial glances, and a feeling of childlike joy jumped from one to the next, and, eventually stirred within us. If a moment could speak, the long rows of disadvantaged, orphaned, and redeemed children whispered, “Look, Justin.
These…these are my beloved.”
The one who came to talk was slightly taller than the rest. She had short hair and wore a smile similar to that of a child who was approaching the gate of a roller coaster ride.
That’s the banner that now flies over her. As she sat in the wobbly plastic chair directly across from me, we slapped hands and snapped thumbs before engaging in any type of discussion. How does one begin a conversation about a childhood that was stolen, taken in the name of evil and enslaved for purposes not limited to abuse?
I asked her if she remembered being taken – she could not. I asked her what the years of her youth in captivity were like. She couldn’t remember that either. I didn’t press – rather, I asked her the question that I was most interested in, “Do you remember the day you were rescued?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed. “I do remember.” As these words were translated to me, pictures flashed across my mind – pictures of my own loved ones, of my niece and nephews, of their innocence and the pain I would feel if ever...but then, her smile interrupted my thoughts and she spoke.
“I was with a group and we were outside. Someone watched us as we moved. I looked up and that’s when I saw him. It was my uncle! I recognized him. He was there, in the distance. He was calling to me – telling me to run to him. To move. But, I could not. I was afraid. Frozen. What if the man saw, what if I got caught – things may become worse for me. I looked at my uncle again. Then, again. Finally, I did it! I ran as fast as I could and I jumped to him. He picked me up and we ran. We got away. We ran.”
It’s birth. Push. Scream. Breathe. Or the nightmare, the one with the demon. The one that will end as soon as I call his name. Scream. JESUS! Breathe. It’s the conversation we must have. Speak. Talk. Breathe. The enemy wants us frozen. Jesus wants us free. Run. Jump if you have to. Open your mouth and allow the cries of your heart to come out. It’s scary. There is freedom.
The Lord continues to work in me since our trip this past June. I know the feeling of being frozen all too well. I often become paralyzed and fearful of the consequences of taking any meaningful step. Still, the Lord is faithful. He continues to call me out of oppression and into his beautiful freedom. I’m so thankful for her. She’s a symbol of hope. Thank you Lord for your saints. Thank you Lord for your beloved children. Thank you Lord for loving me despite myself. We are your REDEEMED. I love you.