Several years ago I was blessed to partner, in a small way, with a ministry serving the profoundly disabled. It is run by a New Yorker, ex-Wall Street business and finance services exec named Jamie Waller.
Over the years we have become good friends and recently he invited me to “Dia de Carnival”, a popular festival enjoyed in Guatemala by young and old alike.
The highlight of it is to dress up in costumes and crack “Cascarones”, empty eggshells filled with confetti, on other peoples heads.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, how ridiculous. I know, because I felt the same way when I first came here, yet little by little, I got pulled into the fun of it with both my kids and the children at the orphanages where we serve. Sure enough, now I kind of look forward to smashing the eggs on someone’s head every year.
The Cadanino Ministry works with profoundly physically, mentally and neurologically disabled patients in a government home called ABI. During the day, about 30 students spend the day in classes in the Cadanino ministry building where they receive love, care, and attention from privately hired Christian caretakers.
One of the ways we serve these children is by bringing mission teams and volunteers to visit and love on the kids. A question I am frequently asked by visitors is “What hope is there for improvement in the lives of these children? How likely are they to recover? and What’s the goal of the ministry?”
It’s a valid question whose answer is found in a simple verse, Matthew 25:40 “In as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Can it really be as simple as that? A ministry without any greater physical, practical or social end that exists merely to love Jesus through caring for the “least of these”? I think so.
There is something amazing that happens when you care for and spend time with these children. Yes, they enjoy it. Yes, they smile more, are calmer and will even sometimes laugh at the silly games you play with them. But the amazing thing that happens is not what happens in them, it’s what happens in you.
As you love someone who can’t love you back in the same way, who is limited in showing or demonstrating their love and appreciation, you get a greater sense of what our relationship with God must be like. The love that we give to Him pales in comparison with the love that He gives to us, the love of a father to send His only son to die for us, mankind, who from the beginning, turned our backs on him. Broken souls who, even when we do love him and try to demonstrate it, cannot even come close to the powerful, all encompassing, overwhelming love that is poured out over us in bountiful measure. Individuals who, when we grasp even a small fraction of His love for us, cannot help but be humbled by it.
When we love these disabled, crippled, blind children, are we loving Jesus? Yes, but on top of that, we are getting a glimpse of the love God has for us, and that is the true gift of the experience.
May we always remember Christ’s words to us in John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”