Read Matthew 18:21-22.
We had just moved to the inner city of Brussels with many of the same ghetto type problems that you would expect. However, my son greatly desired to play in the park in front of our house even though some of the kids were rough. “Well, if I don’t play with and get to know these kinds of kids, then I won’t know anyone. This is the only kind of kid who lives here. They are why we came!” So, I let him outside to play.
Brandon went out and before long, I heard screaming. Some boys were trying to hit him and he was attempting to defend himself. So I called and made him come in. A few minutes later, he asked to return.
I urged him to be careful. It wasn’t long I heard the screams again. This time they had him cornered. So I called and made him come in. Again, he asked to return. “Absolutely not,” I said, “you will get hurt.”
“But, Mom” he replied, “How else will they ever know that Jesus loves them?” Who can argue with that?
Again, screams. This time they were chasing and hitting him with a stick. Butch went to get him and insisted he come in. But before he left the park, Butch asked the boys why they were being so mean when Brandon was only trying to be their friend.
Imagine my mother’s heart. It is a difficult thing to see your son abused that way. But God saw his son suffer worse abuse. And he forgave.
Not long after returning inside there was a knock at the door. The boys asked to speak to Brandon. They asked him to forgive them and to come outside and play with them. He did. Eventually, one of those young men and his family became good friends.
At the time of this writing we have now lived in this European city for 5 years. Brandon has suffered physical harm on more that one occasion. And yes, my mother’s heart suffers each time. And each time Brandon reminds me that they are why we are here. These are the risks we take when we reach out to those that others avoid.
Question: Are there those that you would avoid for one reason or another? When will you “go back outside and play” with them? Will you show them mercy today?