Friday, March 30, 2007

SRI LANKA

Out of Chaos ~ Creation

April took me back to Sri Lanka for the third time. Our programs consisted of stories, games, and crafts. The first time I heard Aaron Burke (of Gateway Outreach) describe his idea for the craft, (to cover notebooks with colored paper and glitter), I laughed and protested the mess. He assured me it would be “fine” (not exactly fine art) and fun for the kids, and I knew in the end it’s all about them. After six days of crayons, cut outs, glue, stickers and not enough scissors, the chaotic art developed its own beauty.

Once crafts are over, we scan the scene, look at the huge mess of stickers unstuck, glue globbed, paper shreds and crushed crayons littering the floors of the churches and orphanages our programs are held at. We make our apologies of course, but are always met with a “don't worry, the children had a good time!” Aaron was right.

When we returned to the Agape Children's Home, it was a giggling reunion for some, but for the 17 new orphans, we were met with strange skepticism. However, once the program started their grimaces turned to grins. It was delightful to see them have fun, express joy, surprise, laughter and enthusiasm at – you guessed it - those darn crafts! Oh, they had a time alright, and as the darkness settled in outside, the Pastor ran and stole light bulbs from various other rooms in the orphanage to give illumination to their creation process.

Once again, I looked down at the floor: EEGADS! Scraps, globs, gloop, gross! But when I looked up, the Faithful Father revealed something new. The children were all tightly holding their decorated notebooks as if they were masterpieces - beauty from the ashes of trash. I told them to look down and asked “what do you see?” It was hard to miss, and they offered a quick easy answer “a BIG MESS!” I went on to explain, “That's right, but in your hands you hold something beautiful. Now if someone walks in and looks at the floor, they would agree with you about the mess. They might not see what YOU created from out of the mess. Children, God is doing the same thing with you and me. Our circumstances may look like a mess, spilled tears, torn hearts and crushed spirits – but God is busy creating something out of what we only see as “ashes of trash.”

He promises to hold you close. YOU are His masterpiece and great treasure.”

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor …, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3