Grace Alive

“Grace is the seed of all goodness.”
~ Lailah Gifty Akita

As the father of two girls, my heart broke when I read Gabriela’s story. She’s a fifteen-year-old girl who lives in Guatemala. I felt sorrow, anger, and helplessness. That is until hope crept in and grace appeared. As you read Gabriela’s words, picture the very face of innocence. Picture her at the tender age of twelve. Picture the smile leaving her face as safety slipped away.

“Life had never been easy for mama, my baby brother and I. Papa disappeared when I was just 4 years old. He walked out the door one Friday evening and never came back. Most say he simply abandoned us. The day of my 12th birthday mama was acting distant all day long. She tried her best to avoid looking me in the eye. She pretended to occupy herself; tidying up our small home, busying herself with mundane chores. “Mama, you have washed that same cup four times, is something the matter,” I asked. “Hush child”, she scolded. “Go outside now and bring in the clothes off the line. We need to go to the market. Today is a big day after all,” she replied, forcing herself to act cheerful. She remembered, I thought to myself, as I skipped out the door. Today is going to be a good day after all! Mama remembered my birthday!

The soft golden sunlight bore down on Gabriela’s face as she quickly unpinned the stiff clothing from the line. Her little brother was playing nearby in the dirt with a neighbor. She scurried back to the house, a stack of clothing buried in her arms, and she yelled to him to hurry home. “We’re heading to the market with mama this afternoon,” she bellowed.

“The market was bursting with people. Everywhere I looked vendors were calling out, working hard to make a sale. The sights and smells had a way of drawing you in and capturing your attention. “Mangos, mangos a cinco la mano,” one lady yelled over the crowd. My little brother squeezed my hand as I clung to mama’s skirt with the other, in fear of losing her in the crowd. Dust blew into my eyes as we made our way through the crowded aisles towards the butcher. There in front of us hung rows of meat. Every kind you could think of. My stomach began to rumble at the thought of roasted chicken.”

“The man behind the counter shook his head when as mama approached. Her hand slipped out of mine. “No more!” his loud deep voice boomed. Mama looked down at her broken sandals in shame as she began to plead in a soft whisper. His eyes finally turned towards me and he thrust the chicken into a black plastic bag, shoving it towards mama. “7:00 tonight,” he said in a deep rusty voice, his eyes slowly looking me up and down. “We’re having chicken, we’re having chicken!” my little brother chanted as he skipped away.”

“The abrupt knock at the door that night made my heart pound through my chest. Darkness had fallen on our small tin home, as my baby brother jumped from his seat, carelessly wiping the grease from the chicken off his lips with the back of his hand. “I will get it,” he stated as lifted the latch on the warped wood door. A large framed body appeared in the doorway as the cool crisp night air entered the room. The dim light from the single bulb made a shadow over half of his rough face. He stepped inside. It was the man from the meat market. Mama grabbed my arm and looked into my eyes. “You are a woman now,” her voice choked. “You must do your part to help our family. She took my little brother by the hand and they walked out into the night.”

Childhood stolen.
Innocence lost.

Gabriela got pregnant. Her baby is named Grace. Today, they live in a place called Village of Hope in San Lucas, Guatemala an organization created to help special needs children and vulnerable mothers. “I’ve learned that ALL life is valuable,” Gabriela said. “I was sold for a chicken and my childhood was taken from me, but my purpose was not. God is a God of miracles and that’s what Grace is.”

Eventually, she faced her abuser in court. As he stood before her, handcuffed awaiting his sentence, Gabrielle, just thirteen years old, asked the judge if she could pray. The courtroom grew silent as she asked God to forgive everyone who hurt her and for redemption be given to them, just as it was given to her.

There are a million great charities and causes out there to choose from the Christmas season. May I ask that you consider a donation to Village of Hope? The need is great. Thanks, friends.


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