Today two new ‘wives’ came to our Young Women’s group. I didn’t recognize one of them, but the other was a 17 year old named Claribel. She came to the site faithfully all last fall. In fact, I have a picture of her from last year’s Christmas party. She is dancing with the other teens, being silly and having fun. I had heard she was ‘married’ but actually seeing her walk into this group was still a shock.
Another of our teens just turned 16 and has informed Daisy that she, too, has become ‘married’ and so needs to switch groups. She, too, has been coming to the site for a long time. She, too, has heard us talking about how God has a wonderful plan for their lives. We have tried to teach them that they have great value in God’s sight, and so do not need to look to a man to have worth.
Many of these girls receive little or no attention from their fathers, who may not even live in the same community. Along comes a man who gives them gifts, tells them they are beautiful, promises them a better life. Their moms encourage them to go, worrying how they’ll feed another mouth if the daughter gets pregnant.
At first, everything seems wonderful. They come to the site showing off a new Blackberry, jewelry, talking about how nice their home is. (This is one of the reasons we move them out of the Adolescent group.) Sadly, the reality sets in way too fast. Abuse, infidelity, abandonment are all commonplace.
So, here’s our dilemma… When a teen comes to us, announcing she is ‘married’, what do we do?
Do we tell her Sorry, but after all she’s heard from us about it not being God’s will for her to move in with a man at such a young age, she cannot be with us anymore? Or, do we just let her make the switch, simply accepting that this is ‘how it is’ in El Callejon?
By doing so, are we condoning her bad choice, making a lie of everything she’s heard us say? Is shrugging it off speaking the truth in love?
After they left, Daisy and I shared our frustration together. What ‘language’ can we use to reach them? She is Columbian, and so speaks perfect Spanish, so we weren’t talking about that kind of language.
How do we find ways to relate to these young women that shows how much Jesus loves them (and we do, too!), but doesn’t leave them with any doubt about living in His will?
I think of our loving Father, who watches us make bad choices over and over again. How it must break His heart when we ignore the wisdom He has given us in His Word.
Jesus came while we were still sinners. His blood was shed for us, for the teens of El Callejon. He did not reject the poor, broken, sin-filled people He came to save. He also never said, That’s okay, just keep on sinning.
Tonight I am feeling very discouraged. Tonight I have far more questions than answers. I feel stuck and helpless. It doesn’t feel good, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe I need to sit in this place of despair for a while. Maybe it will help me understand the feelings of hopelessness many of the people of El Callejon feel.
Perhaps it is a reminder of the humbling truth that I don’t know anything, cannot do anything, am nothing, outside of the love and power of the One who knows and loves each one of these precious girls. That’s not my favorite place to be, but maybe, just maybe, it’s the beginning of wisdom. A wisdom from God that can help us find His language for connecting in El Callejon.