He’s Still Calling Us
I first arrived in Nicaragua during the 1990 elections. While the politicians were out making campaign promises, there was still fierce fighting taking place up north. Soldiers were everywhere; mostly boys in oversized uniforms, all with big guns. The Sandinista and Contra war had reached a stalemate. Giving in to international pressure, they agreed to this election.
The weather was beautiful that day and the countryside resembled a tropical paradise. But by day’s end, I could see what the country’s beauty could not conceal; the utter and total devastation a major earthquake and twenty years of bloody warfare had inflicted on the Nicaraguan people and their homeland, once called the “rose garden” of Central America.
One of the many of what would be life changing experience for me was visiting the Bertha Calderon Women’s hospital. It looked like M.A.S.H. unit on the front lines. Women filled rooms and hallways. Some were ready to deliver, others had limbs mangled and burned from stepping on land mines; most so weak and ill they could not sit up or hold their babies in their arms.
Back home, reflecting of the spiritual aspect of that trip, I remembered seeing a woman at the hospital. She had just given birth to a little baby. She was exhausted. Her hospital gown was torn and fluid stained. Her mattress was no more than a mat. Her bed had no sheets and no pillow. Lying on her side, her head resting against her outstretched arm, she looked intently at her child. She had pulled the baby close to her and wrapped him up tightly with strips of cloth; little more than what we’d use for rags. Sensing my presence, she looked up at me and smiled; a smile of relief (“I made it”) and love (“Isn’t my baby beautiful?”). I shook my head and smiled back.
CONSIDER, Jesus was born in a cave-like stable, so the Bible says. Mary laid Him in a manger (an animal feeding trough). They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes (strips of cloth). Shepherds came and adored Him. Wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and worshipped Him.
And then it came to me! I was not in Managua of Nicaragua. I was in Bethlehem of Judea. For as surely as the shepherds found the Christ Child lying in a “feeding trough” in a stable, wrapped in strips of cloth, I did too, there in that hospital. As certainly as the wise men came bringing gifts, we did too: gifts of soap, hospital supplies, and toys.
Jesus did not say in Matthew 25:35, “When those people were hungry, you fed them.” He said “For I was hungry and you gave Me food.” In some mysterious way, Jesus has become one with the poor and suffering. He became that little boy.
For every child born in the clutches of poverty, God places a star in the sky, beckoning people of goodwill to come and follow that star to find the Bethlehem Child.
This is the message Matthew 25: Ministries is desperately seeking to proclaim: It isn’t too late! The sky is star-filled. God is still calling you and me to Bethlehem.
Rev. Wendell Mettey