A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again” (Isaiah 58:9-12 MSG).
When I think of the concept of restoration, I try to approach it holistically. By nature, restoration cannot be limited to or explained by just one area of lives. For example, spiritual brokenness is often presented as the only facet of our world in need of restoration. We forget that while Jesus endured the wrath of God on the cross for us, He also touched the leper, healed the blind man, and comforted the woman at the well. So we must also work to integrate and restore physical maladies, lost opportunities, severed relationships, destroyed dignity, dilapidated communities, and hollow hearts.
Restoration is birthed from the costliness of redemption, and it is only possible because something was once broken in us that needed to be fixed. But restoration is not just a result; it’s a reason. As Christ followers, we have the desire to restore and create because we ourselves were and are being restored. We see the world as our opportunity to unify what has been broken—to reflect externally what has been restored within.
Tapestry, our Child Sponsorship Program in South Africa, is a place where restoration is happening full circle. Tapestry specifically works with young girls who often have backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and abject poverty. The community in which we work has an unemployment rate of 50 percent. Thirty thousand people are crammed into one-square mile of living space, and 40 percent are infected with HIV/AIDS.
The first step of restoration at Tapestry is to build hope—literally. Through our partnership with a construction company specializing in pre-prepared panels, we have been able to rapidly build two three-bedroom, one-bath, fully-furnished homes complete with electricity, solar-powered hot water, plumbing, kitchen, dining area, and living room. Each home accommodates six girls and a house mother. This summer we are building a third home!
The second step happens in the lives of the girls who live there. Please read the following story of one girl who we recently took in at Tapestry via our in-country coordinator in South Africa:
We have a new girl, 11 years old and in the grade 4. She was physically abused at home by her own mother and grandparents. She was burnt with an electric iron and was repeatedly choked by them before coming to Tapestry for safety.
She has previous bruises and her fingers have been broken . . . her whole body tells enough stories about her abusive life she has been living. She ran away from home and came to Tapestry for help. All the other girls are accepting her and loving her and she now smiles again!
We know that after just a period of time and lots of love will heal her and she is already showing signs of healing since being at Tapestry.
Sponsorship provides a beautiful picture of what true restoration looks like when it is functioning authentically and effectively on all levels. The joy is unexplainable.
For more information on the restoration happening at Tapestry, please check out this video.
Thank you for helping write the story of restoration with us for the 14,000 children in our care. We couldn’t do it without you.