The past can be a weight…the magnitude of the tragedy overwhelming and all-consuming. Every time your eyes close, you see their faces. Sons taken too soon. The anger rises anew. Lost jobs are insignificant compared to the lost loved ones. Lost freedom. But you go on.
I met him on a trip. He was hired to do construction. We were building a church. We were also building THE church.
North and South Americans stacked concrete blocks, threw cement, painted walls, and tiled a roof. Shoulder to shoulder, we joyfully toiled from sunrise to sunset until everyone was exhausted. Christians and non-Christians alike, simply working with and loving each other.
Each day on the long walk home, he would pick up scrap wood and construction debris. Someday…eventually…his house would have real walls. A roof. Someday.
But God… God is a rescuer. He is a redeemer.
“…the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners” Isaiah 61:1
Late in the week a decision was made. A decision for Christ. And life became new. Restored. Redeemed. The chains shackling him to the pain of the past were broken.
Embraced by both the savior and His church, something special was found. Forgiveness. Community. Reconciliation. Hope. Life.
His house now has a roof. And walls. His precious family is safer than they have been in years. Because of a church? Because of THE church? Because of the redeemer! Jesus reached out through the obedient workers. The light of Jesus was shining through them all week. It drew him. It gave him a new hope and a new community. And the trajectory of six precious lives changed for eternity.
This post originally appeared in October, 2013. This is one of my most well-known photographs and one of my most treasured stories. The original events took place in Niteroi, just outside of Porto Alegre, Brazil. It was a privilege to be a witness to these events and an honor to capture a few moments with my camera and words. We are leaving for another mission trip to Brazil soon. As I reflect on all God has done and anticipate what He has in store, I decided to share this particular story again.