Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our Home: Iquique

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."
- Matthew 23:37

Not long ago we were descending on the winding road from Alto Hospicio to Iquique at night. The city lay below us, sparkling with lights like countless bright jewels. As I gazed on the city to which God has led us to minister, my heart constricted and I was reminded of Jesus' words in Matthew 23:27. I felt then as I imagine Jesus might have felt, a bittersweet mixture of love and longing and sorrow and hope for my city.

Despite the many twinkling lights, darkness still lurks in every corner of this town.

The sex industry, the drug trade, the dingy street corners where money is made off of humanity discarded. The gyrating discos where young and old alike throw off restraint in pursuit of pleasure. The hungry casino waiting to swallow hard-earned cash and the food from a family's table. Faces of friends whose well-meaning choices will never add up to salvation without Christ. Thousands upon thousands yet to hear the glories of His grace.

My husband and I have talked often of the opportunities in Iquique. We've dreamed of crisis pregnancy centers and abstinence ministries, of outreaches to the "women of the night." We've talked of Christian school and community centers and teaching English as a second language. There is so much that could be done, and so much left to do. All too often dreams run headlong into the limitations of reality and turn swiftly to dust. May it not be so in this case, and in this place!

If you had told me four years ago - when we were unexpectedly informed that our plans were being changed and that we'd be starting ministry in a city other than the one which we had spent years preparing to reach - that I would one day feel this way about Iquique, I would have highly doubted that was possible. Yet here we are, falling deeper in love every day not because of all this city has to offer but more often despite it. It would be false to say we don't have fears and concerns, because we do. We pray for God's protection on our children the older they grow and the closer temptations come. We grieve as we watch people slip willfully away from the faith into false promises of materialism that will never fulfill their deepest longings.

But most of all we hope for tomorrow and what God has in store for this city - the place He knew even before we did, would be our home. In Christ, the future is brighter than a thousand twinkling lights. May we be ever faithful to His plans and purposes as we shine for Him!


Anonymous said...

Amen! You shared your heart so beautifully. Our prayers are with you all. Mom

Erin said...

aww steph, i loved this post! makes me miss you so much, and your sweet voice! i miss our late night treks for coffee and the 4 of us playing games. i do miss you friend, you are such a Godly example every where you go. love you girl! erin

Anonymous said...

Oh, if we all had a heart like that for our own cities. May this encourage us to see our cities through the eyes of Christ as you see your city.
-Elizabeth, member of Living Water Community Church