by Martha Piedrasanta
This reflection is part of our special Season of Hope Lenten devotional series. Be sure to check back each week as we share reflections from a diversity of people whose prayer and support make the mission and ministry of Lutheran World Relief possible. You can read the entire series by pressing the button below.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
There are times in our lives when it feels like we live in a world full of darkness. Adversity seems to overwhelm us, and we begin to believe that we don’t have the personal strength to go on.
But there is a light: God is our salvation and our strength for the journey along the path of life. God is our stronghold, with us wherever we go, our victor over death and the power of Satan, our motivator to be a shining light in the darkness.
Sergio, 35, had been living in darkness. Born in Chile with multiple congenital complications, this man with severe intellectual and developmental delays was never able to receive any rehabilitation because of a scarcity of services and family resources. As a result of his disabilities and his family’s lack of training, Sergio had spent his entire life lying on a mat on the floor of his family’s home. His world was one of seeing people’s feet and legs—and, who knows, maybe a cat or dog from time to time—but never anyone’s face.
The Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile courageously and faithfully responded to be God’s light to young people of Chile, like Sergio, living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Bethesda Center, a small-scale day-care center for disabled youth, young adults and family members, was constructed, equipped and staffed with the support of the congregation, volunteers and many partners including Lutheran World Relief.
Sergio came to the Bethesda Center completely detached. He made no eye contact, didn’t interact with those around him, had no muscle tone and was unable to sit upright. At day care, Sergio got very gradual physical and auditory therapy, participated in morning worship and other group activities of daily living, and received much love and care. His parents received training and orientation.
Six months later, Sergio has achieved miraculous things: he can sit in a wheelchair (strapped in) for the entire time he is at the Bethesda Center each day; he has been strapped in the vertical board in order to receive standing therapy; he makes eye contact and even laughs at jokes shared by staff. Although he will likely always be non-verbal, Sergio has become a very interactive, content young man, bringing joy and amazement to his family and those around him.
God’s light shines through the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile and through God’s child Sergio. It shines through the strength of volunteers and organizations like LWR who have accompanied them on their journeys. How is it shining through you?
God, we look to you as our light and salvation. We have faith in you as the stronghold of our lives and know that only by putting our full weight on you will we have the strength to be your light to those around us.
Martha Piedrasanta, a lifelong Lutheran, works for Lutheran World Relief managing and building the capacity of partner Lutheran churches in Latin America to effectively design and implement their unique mercy projects.