She hadn’t laughed for nearly two years, ever since her father’s tragic death in August, 2009. Even though she still liked sports and talking with her friends, Ruth’s eyes didn’t shine anymore, like other teenagers. And she never returned their laughter. Never again, Ruth thought, would she feel the joy she once had, before her father was killed. A fourteen-year-old girl at the time, she still believed two years later that she was to blame for the murder of her father, a well-known church leader in eastern Colombia.
The day the guerrillas shot him, he was waiting for her in an isolated place. Her parents had given Ruth permission to go play soccer. But she was late coming back, so her father had gone looking for her. Bitterness started to fill her heart, as she became angry with herself, convinced she had caused her father’s death. At her fifteenth birthday party, she couldn’t stop her tears from falling. “I don’t want to live anymore!” she sobbed. Suicidal thoughts became part of her daily life, as she kept fighting with her sisters and wrestling with an unhappiness about everything that made her life unbearable.
Her widowed mother, who was receiving regular emotional and material support through Open Doors’ program for martyrs’ families, admitted that although all four of her children were struggling with problems over their father’s death, Ruth’s condition was the worst.
But God turned things around for Ruth in July, when she was one of thirty widows’ children invited to an “orphan encounter” camp sponsored by Open Doors for children and teenagers from six different regions of Colombia. For three days, God used counselorsto confront Ruth with the reality of her pain and start her on the path of healing.
At one point, she was asked to write down on some papers all the things that she wanted to fill her heart. “I want to fill my heart with forgiveness for myself, and for those who killed my father,” Ruth wrote. Then she went on to tell the others what she had written, something that she had not had the courage to talk about publicly before. Together the children and teens sometimes smiled over what they’d shared, along with tears as they released their need to cry out their pain. As they faced the words of Scripture taught to them and prayed together, the walls that Ruth had built up in her heart started to fall down.
Overjoyed, Ruth said, “It is so hard to find people who really take care of me. I thought there weren’t any! But now I realize that there are some, and even that I’m valuable for those who I don’t even know! I would like to be a good Christian and serve the Lord with all my heart.”
RESPONSE: Today I will recognize that I am also valuable to God who loves me.
PRAYER: Pray for the many children in the persecuted church who need emotional healing.
STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM (SSTS) -A daily devotional message by Paul Estabrooks
© 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission
“When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” Proverbs 10:25
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