Walls

There are walls going up everywhere we look. Some are made of brick and wire, others are made of fear and shame. But God is tearing them down.

Two hundred new police stations have been built, and armed patrols of soldiers on the streets are now the norm in this city. New gates and razor wire fencing are going up around every building, neighborhood and park. Political instability has led to extreme measures, with homes searched and people detained and questioned by the police. We have been warned not to do anything to draw attention to ourselves, because it could endanger our local friends. Some have withdrawn from us because of that fear and then, over time, because of shame.

We fight protectionism and fear with small acts of kindness aimed to gain the most precious commodity of all: trust. We take out garbage for the elderly, give water to those who cannot pay their water bills, lend out our cel phones. The neighbors call us, “people who help”. But the walls remain. There was a day when I felt especially discouraged, when I wondered if the walls were too thick and high for God to overcome. That day, I asked the Lord for some small sign of hope.

As I walked home I saw Alex, a guard from a local neighborhood. He walked up to me with a big smile and greeted me by name, asking me how I was. This man had never before given me so much as a slight wave! Fifty yards further on I saw Eli, who works at a local restaurant. He came out, smiled, walked up to me and also greeted me by name, asking me how my day was. Again, this was a man who up until that moment had never even spoken to me.

I knew the Lord was trying to tell me something, and I now walked with expectancy. In the short four hundred yards left to walk to my house three more men met me with smiles, greetings and handshakes, men whom I had seen before but had never interacted with. All of them wanted to know how I was doing. By then, I had to answer: “My God is really, really good.”

And so the walls come down.

by S & D