I used to look out at grassy hillsides where controlled fires had left the land black and smoldering and think, “Can beauty really come from these ashes?” “Can life really emerge from the scorched earth and be even richer and stronger than ever?” I find myself asking the Lord some of these same questions as I look at the world around us. Do I truly, deeply trust Him to transform lives—to bring beauty out of brokenness? Transformation is easy to talk about. But when it is up close and personal, when the lives of those around me depend on it, do I really believe it? When faced with real brokenness in my life, in the lives of those around me, and in the lives of those we serve around the world, I find myself asking, “Do I truly believe that God is in the business of deep transformation here and now?”
In so many ways the Lord has repeatedly answered my call with a resounding, “Yes, I am absolutely bringing deep transformation in your life, in the lives of those who are dear to you, and in the lives of many around the globe.” The Lord is indeed bringing beauty from ashes in ways that leave me amazed at His power to transform and redeem what seems hopeless.
One way the Lord has shown His loving, transformative power is His use of savings groups in Rwanda to bring about seemingly impossible forgiveness and reconciliation. Christine, Savings and Credit Association (SCA) program coordinator for the Pentecostal Church, led us in a reflection on forgiveness during our staff retreat. As she speaks in Kinyarwanda, the idea of holding no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5) takes on a whole new depth. The reality of how we need Christ’s transforming love in us is evident when I think about what it would mean to forgive after a genocide when horrific acts were committed, sometimes by friends and neighbors. I stood at the genocide memorial and thought, “How does one forgive this?” I certainly do not have it within me to love that deeply on my own. But our Savior, who gave His life for those who betrayed Him, who washed the feet of Judas on the very night of his betrayal, this Savior is filling His people with transforming love that allows for this depth of forgiveness.
This is the beauty I see in these shining faces—people on a journey with the Lord to forgiveness that cannot by human standards be found but that, enabled by the Spirit, is transforming lives as these women meet together. Not only tolerating, but engaging with and entering into trusting relationships with people they know did things that make even the strongest heart quake. It is life-transforming forgiveness.
It is a journey—some have found forgiveness, some have found glimmers of healing but still have a ways to go, some cannot fathom the idea of forgiveness. But seeing and hearing of ways that the Lord is bringing about transformation in very real, personal, and beautiful ways encourages faith within me. I am amazed by our God who lovingly and patiently is bringing beauty from ashes.
I ask that you join me in this journey in two ways: First, please join me in prayer that the Spirit will move in our lives and the lives of our clients, that together we will continue to be transformed by God’s love into Christ’s likeness. Secondly, a question—How have you seen God’s transforming power at work in your life and in the lives of those around you recently?