Yesterday as I lectured at a theological institute in
I noticed a lady sitting on the front row eagerly following everything I was saying in English. (My translator was taking everything I said and sharing it in Spanish as I delivered the lecture.) Naturally it was reassuring to see that at least one person could understand my message in English. A little later in the day I learned more about her story. Torreon, Mexico
Johanna (not her real name) was arrested in
Texas years ago for very serious offenses. She ended up in one of the state facilities that incarcerates female offenders in Gatesville. I don’t know what all took place during her years of incarceration, but I do know that a church in that area took a special interest in her.
Once she was released she came back to her native
Mexico. Johanna is an instrumental part of the theological institute today. Additionally she is coordinating major efforts to reach out to the poorest among the poor in the area in and around in the state of Coahuila. I think she is an impressive lady to say the least. Her actions have the wheels in my head turning… Torreon, Mexico
It occurs to me that we all have a past. All of us… All of us have done things that we seriously regret. Some have criminal records like Johanna. Others have made huge relational mistakes that have led to divorce or other forms of family breakups. Everyone has a past. Will we let our past offenses cripple us? Do we consider ourselves sidelined in God’s service, because we perceive ourselves to be broken and thus inferior?
Could it be that we view ourselves as a life coach for others? In our minds, they should be sidelined! We take it upon ourselves to remove them from the game of service, because their flaws are particularly heinous in our minds. If someone had done that to Johanna, the poorest among the poor in this area of
Northern Mexico would be denied the power of compassion. Such thoughts keep me awake at night. We need Johanna and others like her. Today when it is my turn to lecture I will view her with a deeper level of appreciation.