a hot wet sponge of thick air greets a weary group of college age kids as the exit o’hare international airport, finally arriving in their home state after two weeks in distant lands, other countries. all but one. this place is not really home for him and his mass of red hair. but in some immense and hidden sense none of them are truly home, their home being nowhere that a man can travel or return to in ways we can really comprehend. they are strangers here, on this earth, honestly home wherever there is love and grace and truth. and as they are filled with such Presence always, they are home anywhere. and this thought, conscious or unconscious, is in all of them, especially after the last two weeks.
their systems are in an emotional shock, nothing quite makes sense, from social structures, to airplanes, to breathing. they live, they live and they live, but what is life and how does one live? they have worked at an intense, frenzied pace, completing great tasks during almost every waking hour for many days in a brutal row. but with the fatigue they feel the strengths in their arms and legs and chests, a new welcome growth.
they have been around the cast-aside and cast-out, the hated, the feared; a population within a population kept by ageless hatred and evil in a simple, perverse, uneducated, and destructive state. where is love in a village of mud brick huts, garbage fields, and a history of hatred and abuse, torture and death, and all the worst of things that you would ever imagine in your worst moments? and somehow the Love in this group of thinkers and learners allowed them to love those who know no love. by the grace of Grace they share grace even when completely lost. and now they feel a new strength in their hearts, fueled by a constant brokenness, a strange hope where no hope should be found. and sometimes that known darkness covers in their minds the almost unknown glimmer of hope. they catch glimpses, mercifully, of ancient promises and tears of a thousand emotions brew to a churning inside as they shake their fists at an unmerciful earth and wonder who could hurt such beautiful children anyway.
two weeks in the backward backwaters of an almost forgotten country, creeping towards a western style world, kept alive in people’s memories mainly due to stories of vampires. romania. and the gypsy population in the town of tinca gathered together around mud homes and crater-pocked dirt roads. a community unreached. but this is where those tiny lights flicker forth and deny forgetfulness. an american woman has come with a guiding pressure on her heart, and has opened a place to give children a hope and love; a place where they can come day after day and live a childhood denied them by society and reality, live among those who know love and share love; a place to come to know an even greater Love; to grow into lights of their own. and groups like those college kids come often and build and recreate and play with kids. and a gypsy man works closely with them, and he is proud of his children, and he opens his home to other believers as a house of prayer. and they all have visions of a new house of prayer erected in the village, a new facility to bring in more children, and new building to house groups; of turning a crowded field of garbage into a playground and outreach space, of redeeming a thousand forgotten and horrible things so that a better life may be realized now and in the many generations to come.
oh what hope grows! what peace is required to believe it can happen! how much has already been done and how much left to do! swelling, swelling, a hope and a movement grows in each of these young men and women standing now in the sticky heat of the very heart of americanism. there is more to what others have built here; they see the contrast with new eyes. in some this is a great bitterness. in others, a fresh awakening. they know they have helped a small corner of the world in some small way, and maybe they wonder what they have really accomplished at all. but they see evil and a giant mess and wonder how it can ever be cleaned and how will the only One who is good lead them back or someplace else. God let it be so! may we never forget and cease to be moved. may their names stay with us forever, calling us, if not back, then into a deeper understanding of hatred and love and how to not do one and only seek the other.