Mercy in Spite of a Scandal

Amazonian Wednesdays 🌴

Joyful hugs during a recent youth baptism

Today’s post is a story I wrote up just last month…

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A loud, belligerent knocking interrupted the peaceful afternoon. Someone opened the door inquisitively: “Yes?” Two policemen pushed past, into the senior Arimborgo household, without waiting for permission. Their faces communicated aggression and determination. “There is a stolen cell phone here,” they snarled. “We found you out by GPS. Surrender the item now!”

My in-laws blinked in shocked confusion. They had no idea what these officers were talking about. “Oh, so you’re not going to cooperate? Very well then,” growled the hostile authority figures. “We will find it ourselves.” They then commenced to search the premises.

Without a search warrant, they spent the next two hours invading the family’s privacy. They spared no nook or cranny. They found nothing. Finally, my sister-in-law, who was a congresswoman at the time, was able get in touch with their boss. They received a call with orders to leave the premises immediately.

Soon the intrusion was over. However, the excitement caused in the neighborhood was not. “Police at the pastors’ house!” was the talk of every household. The hullabaloo did not die down for quite some time.

What was the cause of all this commotion? A young teenager named Rosa. She was staying with the family that week. Her mother was in a crisis and had urgently requested some help. Displaying Christ’s mercy, the Arimborgos took her daughter in. And now Rosa had stolen a cell phone, attracting the police to the house. During the entire search, she managed to keep it hidden in her underclothes. What an upset she had caused!

Now, fast forward three years from that unpleasant occasion. On a Saturday night, it was nearly the stroke of twelve. A knock sounded at the door. Mama Carmen answered, wondering who it might be, so late at night. She tried not to register her surprise when she found Rosa once again on her doorstep. The big scene with the police immediately rushed back to her memory.

“Pastora, may I come in?” Rosa pleaded. “My dad is raging drunk tonight. My mom is away. I have nowhere else to go.” Mama Carmen hesitated. Should she allow this young woman in again, after all the trouble she had caused? Holy Spirit stirred her heart with compassion. She looked into Rosa’s desperate eyes and said gently, “Come in, daughter.”

She fed Rosa’s hungry tummy and sheltered her once again. The next night at church, the sermon just “happened” to be on Matthew 25: “Then the King will say, ‘…I was hungry, and you fed Me… I was a stranger, and you invited Me in’” (vv. 34-35, NIV). Tears came to Mama Carmen’s eyes. She felt God’s pleasure in her obedience.

Holy Spirit has been at work through her kindness. Rosa went to our youth camp. There, she was touched powerfully by the presence of God. We are seeing the beginnings of a radical change in her. Truly, there is no human heart too far gone for Jesus’ redeeming touch. The question remains, though: Will we open our lives to love the ones that need it the most? 

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