Our friends at Camp Hope Orphanage in Ecuador have been caring for a teenage girl – let’s call her “Maria” – who suffers from cerebral palsy and has the mental capacity of a 3-year-old.
Whenever Maria goes to church and the time comes for prayer requests, she always raises her hand and says, “Momma.”
Sounds normal enough – until you learn about Momma.
Before coming to Camp Hope, Maria was largely ignored by her family. She spent most of her time at the local garbage dump, scavenging for food and being exposed to pollution, disease and other dangers. Her mother was a substance abuser whose addiction became so severe, she began using Maria as a bartering chip so that men would give her alcohol.
That is the “Momma” who Maria now prays for every week in church. And because of those prayers, her mother’s life has been graciously, miraculously transformed! She has overcome her slavery to the bottle, and she now visits her daughter regularly, giving her the love and attention that was once absent in their home.
The Christ-like attitude of this precious girl – whose degenerative disease makes it difficult for her to do basic tasks such as eating or dressing – should be a lesson to us all. She has so little, yet is rich in the most important thing: love. As Paul’s wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels…If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
We must never lose our love. The Cross International motto, “delivering food, shelter and hope to the poorest of the poor,” means nothing without love. We must ask ourselves every day: are we loving the poor; are we loving the handicapped; are we extending our love even to the sinner, the addict, the irresponsible, the outcast – just as Christ extended love to us?