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But first be reconciled to each other.

Natali had a lesson to learn. As a young graduate of Hope, she knew that the choices she would make in the first months on her own would profoundly shape her life. Her witness led her boyfriend to Christ, and he quickly became a leader at the graduate church. As they moved toward marriage, she encouraged him to be reconciled with his family. He was, and then he asked the tough question: “What about you and your mother?”

A bit of background… By the time she was ten, Natali’s mother was prostituting her to the men of the slum.  At eleven she had a child.  Her mother didn’t want the baby around—bad for business—so Natali found an older woman in the slum to care for the infant.  Natali’s situation was reported to the authorities, who placed her at Hope’s Girls’ Ranch.  On long weekends, Hope’s social workers would take her to see her daughter, and after she graduated and was in a stable living situation, Evelyn, now nine years old, came to live with her.

Forgive? Be reconciled? I don’t think so, not after that. Not with a mother who had sold her into prostitution. But, Marcelo insisted. “You taught me the importance of forgiveness. It’s important for you, too.”   Even in his newfound faith, Marcelo understood that anger and bitterness are barriers to the activity of God in our lives.

It didn’t happen immediately, but it happened. And the healing that it brought to Natali’s life is a story we have heard told time and time again, as kids from absolutely terrible backgrounds not only forgive and are reconciled, but so often become the agents of God’s redemption for the very parents who exploited them.

And so often, in the faith and lives of Hope’s children, we find lessons for our own lives. If Natali has found reconciliation, and daily prays that her mother will come to experience the grace that has transformed her own life, what could there ever be in my life that keeps me from forgiving, from being an agent of grace?

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