I have been reminded lately that not everyone lives like me. Not everyone has a happy childhood with loving parents. Not everyone has enough money to buy food to feed their family everyday. Not everyone lives in a house that keeps them warm and dry when it rains. Not everyone celebrates birthdays with a party. Some people live day to day, waiting to see what God will provide for them to eat. This is reality for many people. My reality is not everyone’s reality. I’ve been reminded of the importance of story and of listening to other’s stories. I have so much to learn from my brothers and sisters in Colombia. This week I witnessed once again the ways that people here in Colombia show up for one another and show Christ’s love in tangible ways.
I had the privilege of being invited to a Quinceañera for a girl I have met a few times. A Quinceañera is a special party that is thrown here for girls when they turn 15 – it’s something like a rite of passage, a celebration of the transition from being a child to being a woman. These are very special parties where the girls get dressed up and there is usually a special ceremony, dance, cake, dinner, etc. It’s a big deal. For this girl, it was especially a big deal because she never expected to have a Quinceañera. She comes from a family where there is not money to spend on a party; her story is one that hurts to hear. This young woman is a new believer and attends the Covenant church in the Santo Domingo neighborhood. Her friends at this church and the Shalom church in downtown decided that they would organize and host a Quinceañera. It was amazing to see people coming together with their resources, their time, their talents to throw a special party for this special young woman. Someone donated flowers, another person donated decorations, a hairstylist donated her services, a photographer took pictures for free, Shalom church donated it’s space, the woman’s group served the dinner, etc., etc., etc. People came together to show this young woman just how loved she is in an extremely tangible way. The ceremony was beautiful – the pastor gave a reflection, her friends made a video to congratulate her, there was a special dance and she received roses. Throughout the party the message was clear, “You are God’s beloved daughter.”
I left the party moved, speechless, filled with emotions. It’s not fair what this young woman has had to live in her young life, but God has surrounded her with a new family, a church family, that loves her and is prepared to walk beside her. This is why I am a part of the church, this is why I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is God’s gracious love lived out in the flesh.