If I sat down to make a list of people the Sparrows trust and then made another list of people the Sparrows do not trust I am honestly not sure which list my name would end up on. If missionary life was dependent on the population you love and serve extending trust to you, I suspect many of us would grow weary in our call. My desire and need for the Sparrows to trust God is so much bigger than any need I have for them to trust me. The Sparrows may never reach a point where they completely and wholeheartedly trust me but their lack of trust in me does not prevent me from continuing to labor in love.
The Sparrows are upfront about their trust issues and justify why they do not trust people. They are able to recount instances when and where trust was broken for them. Each and every time they were disappointed by someone it fractured their heart. The Sparrows can also give examples when trust was withheld from them. They get frustrated and angry when they do not feel trusted. This broken or withheld trust has brought forward an instinct to shield and guard themselves against others.
Five months ago during dinner the executive director of the ministry asked three of our Sparrows if they trusted him. One by one he looked each one in their eyes, lowered his voice, told them he wanted the best for them then asked, do you trust me? While he waited for a response I sat there holding onto hope and began to pray. Each Sparrow said no. He reacted tenderly in patience. Through tears each Sparrow shared their hesitation and reservation to trust him. My heart fell, I looked away, silently crying in anguish I whispered, “Lord haven’t they seen you, don’t they feel your love, how have they missed it?”
Observing the Sparrows hesitation to trust others and trust God reminds me of a game of tug of war. I picture her leaning back, with her feet planted deep in the dirt, standing her ground, pulling as hard as she can…back and forth she hangs onto the rope. Hand the rope to God, trust God with the rope, I pray. The Sparrows may never let go of the rope and trust God. I am sure they assume holding onto the rope gives them control of the outcome. My hope is that they each out to God and have the strength to trust him. Jesus reach the depths of their souls erase their pain and replace it with hope.
Two months ago one of the Sparrows made a profession of faith. She shared her letter to God with me. Her letter was full of repentance and confession. After she read the letter she immediately asked to be held accountable. As I listened to her my eyes welled up with tears as her recognition of her need for a savior resounded through her expression and tone. That night it was as if a beautiful wind swept through the safe house. As the Sparrow shared and recounted her decision during dinner the air was filled with sweetness. That night just before bed I heard worship music from the living room; I walked out of my room and found the Sparrow doing bible study. She noticed me, smiling ear to ear she said, “God uses it all. I get it now. I want to thank everyone. I am who God says I am.” We ended the night singing worship songs… A month later this beaming beauty made the decision to get baptized.
When the Sparrows share their lack of trust in others or their refusal to trust others I cannot help but wonder if they are just resisting or if it is with good reason. Some of them do not trust themselves and generally they do not trust each other. They don’t trust Christians. They don’t trust cops. They don’t trust women. All the while they are ready to receive trust but they are not ready to give it.
My first night back at the safe house the Sparrows shared that they had been feeling unheard, overlooked and singled out. As I listened to them I heard confusion in their voice as I watched tears stream down their cheeks, I thanked them for sharing their frustrations. I reminded and encouraged them, “You do not need to survive the safe house and you do not need to survive the staff. Find your voice, communicate your thoughts, your needs – we are here to help foster and build them. My prayer for you is that you will trust that the ministry is for you not against you.”
The next day our devotional was about trusting God and the step of faith it takes to trust him. The Sparrows shared that pride is the main reason people do not trust God. They also said fear of the unknown is another reason it is hard to trust God. As I sat there listening to them share about the courage it takes to trust I could not help but think how lonely life must be without people in your life you can trust. Whether you cannot or will not trust people…how do you hang onto hope without someone in your life you can trust?