|by C.J. Chase|
On Thursday morning, we met a local friend at the hotel restaurant, and I let my guard down. An organized crime ring involving at least 4 men stole my purse and its contents -- including my wallet, a credit card, a couple hundred dollars in cash, my car keys and my passport. I made a mistake, and it cost me several hundred dollars. To be honest, God was taking care of us because we were in one of the most dangerous cities in the world and we only lost several hundred dollars.
Armed guards are everywhere in the city. (The hotel has two. The security cameras later revealed one man had distracted a guard while another carried out the theft.) Concrete walls topped by razor wire surround many of the buildings. The ubiquitous crime and corruption have left poverty and despair in their wake.
And yet, across town, a light shines in an even less prosperous part of the city. Behind a nondescript concrete wall is the orphanage we came to visit. There, Orthodox nuns oversee the care and education of abused and abandoned children.
|Madre Ivonne and the book I signed for her|
The juxtaposition between these two worlds -- or really, worldviews -- couldn't be more stark even though they were only a few miles and minutes apart. On one side, greed and corruption and crime prevail. Life is cheap and meaningless. Indeed, on our last day, four people were murdered nearby, shot on the street during the night. But inside those orphanage walls, one finds an unselfish dedication that absolutely humbles me.
Reflecting on our trip, I thought back to the many times I've heard secularists decry Christianity. If there is a God, they ask, how do you account for evil in the world? I recently read a response that flipped that question on its head. If there is no God, how do you account for good in the world? Because in a godless world, in a world where "survival of the fittest" holds sway, there is no rational reason for service to the least and most vunerable.
When Jesus ordered his followers to reject mankind's natural proclivity for selfishness, he led by example. He blessed children and ate with sinners rather than spend his time with the VIPs of his day. He performed the tasks of the most menial servants, such as the washing of feet. And he sacrificed his own life.
"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, 'Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all--he is the greatest.'" (Luke 9:46-48)
Last week, I had an up-close-and-personal view of the contrast between the life spent in service to God versus a life spent in service to self. That is the difference the cross makes -- and the reason that we must share the cross if we hope to change the world.
Have you had a recent encounter with someone whose service to God is an inspiration to you?
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Redeeming the Rogue was an August, 2011 release. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at cjchasebooks.com