This post is one in a series of devotionals written by Lutherans in the U.S. and LWR staff around the world reflecting on their faith, which calls them to proclaim hope for those in need. Check out the other devotionals in the series.
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“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel." — Isaiah 7:14 (NRSV)
I began to work with Lutheran World Relief about six years ago. I had experience with what I thought were similar institutions, but little by little I began to realize that LWR is different. My colleagues have a special kind of spirituality infused in their work. They are committed to bringing about change in the lives of the people we work with, and their enthusiasm and commitment is truly inspiring to me.
Every week or so, the whole LWR Peru team meets to read a Bible passage and reflect on it. Those reflections inspire our work as we accompany people on their journey, seeking to help them and learn from them, and thanking them for the opportunity to serve. I was also lucky enough to learn from a special LWR guide, Pedro Véliz (see his Lenten devotional here).
I have visited several of the places where LWR has projects, and in each one I have found very grateful people who recognize that LWR is helping them improve their lives. When I participated in the distribution of LWR School Kits in a small school in the Peruvian rain forest, for instance, the children were quite young, and I didn´t expect that they would be so happy to receive notebooks and pencils. I had seen this kind of joy when my own children received a toy of some kind, but when I saw these children clap and laugh over the School Kits, it made me acutely aware of their needs and how important this small gift was for them. Of course we told them where the kits had come from: “Our Lutheran brothers and sisters in the United States prepared them for you with great kindness.” I will always remember their little faces and their joy, and they will continue to be an important motivation for me in my work.
As a mother, when I visit some of the LWR project areas, it has been difficult for me to see the children´s unmet needs. But I know that we must have faith that these difficulties will be overcome, and I know we are not alone on this journey, that people we don´t even know are giving generously, reaching out to us just because they want to help their neighbor. From my part of the LWR world, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to you for helping us help others.
When you reflect on difficulties you see in the world, how do you find hope? How do you think you might be best able to give help?
God who gives gifts: From the gift of your son to the simple gifts that help us learn and grow, thank you for being such a generous giver. Remind us that to follow you is to be generous in all we do, just as Mary was generous in welcoming you into the world. Amen.
Gladys Soto serves in Peru as the Regional Finance Officer for LWR’s Latin America team.
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