That Day, This Day, One Day… Life in the Now and Not Yet

We live in the now and the not-yet, the space where darkness and light meet, the no-mans-land between the battle-lines of the Kingdom of God and the encroaching kingdom of darkness. As the battle rages around us, sometimes we fall, sometimes we stand, but always Light is on the move, confronting darkness with never fading strength, and still the darkness presses in on every side. NT Wright writes, “The long history of evil has begun, but matching it, stride for stride, is God’s redeeming purpose.”  That’s what the last month has felt like for us… not in a metaphor but in the grit and grime of reality.

Darkness was there on the day of August 1st when one of our nine year old kids club girls was sexually molested, and several days afterward when we heard the news about another little girl from our clubs who had also been raped.

Light was there on the day of August 2nd The Canadian Play therapist we partner with arrived here in Jamaica with her husband to further equip our team and others in working with traumatised children. Within a week both little girls were a part of restorative playtimes helping them process what had happened to them; Light meeting the scars left by darkness with the beginnings of healing and restoration. 

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Light was there on the day when, out of concern for the community and the children who have suffered violence and molestation, we partnered with six churches and three community organisations to hold a prayer march through Trench Town. On the march children were taught self defence moves in the street, we prayed at different points throughout the community and invited the children to write their prayers on heart shaped cards and leave them hanging around the community. The children were given ribbons (like sports day awards) affirming their value and traced their hands on a banner which says ‘Unite to protect the Children’ (in Jamaican Patois). 

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Many of our kids club children marched with us with glee. One nine year old girl was marching with her mother and young sibling. It was her birthday that day and she was all smiles.  But Darkness was there that same night after the march when her twenty-one year old brother was shot and killed.

Light what there throughout the next week when 16 people began training in ‘Restorative Play-times’ with our partnering child therapist. Over that week 42 Restorative Play Times were held with children who needed that healing space the most, Light overcoming darkness with gentle restoring strength. 

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Light continued to shine, as around 90 front-line children workers attended training events on working with traumatised children including special training on how to approach behaviour problems in redemptive ways. One children’s worker with a ministry in Down-Town Kingston used what she had learned at the seminar and had two breakthroughs with children in her programme the very next day. Light was reaching out into all the darkest corners. 

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But then darkness dealt it’s harshest blow on the night of August 23rd when a 14 year old girl, Princess, was raped and murdered on a church ministry compound in Trench Town. The same place David and I once lived. The perpetrator/s attempted to burn her body in the night to hide what they had done. Darkness hiding in darkness.

But Light doesn’t stop shining in the face of darkness, it burns the brighter still. One of our team members asked us to hold another prayer march in response to Princess’s murder.  We were exhausted after the summer programmes and simply couldn’t. But that didn’t stop the Light.  The prayer march went ahead with large numbers in attendance praying for safety for the children of TrenchTown.

Darkness struck then again close to home when within two days of Princess’s murder  the father of one of our team members was held up and robbed at gun point, and then another team member had her purse stolen on the street.

But Light was with them walking through it, ensuring no lives were lost. Our team encouraged them, prayed for them, stood with them in their anger and hurt.

And now, as we are well into September darkness still dwells all around us in the poverty that pressures many of our team, placing stress on their families and relationships. Many children we work with have started school this month without all the books and resources they need.

But Light has been moving even now. Our back to school fundraiser has, as of last week, brought in enough funding from recent local and overseas donors to ensure that every child in our programmes who needs assistance will be able to receive book tokens to purchase the books they need for school. No child will have to miss out. This is the first year we have had enough funding to assist every child in our programme. As I write this our team has begun distributing these among the neediest families. 

Light has been working as last week we held planning meetings for the re-starting of our children’s and youth programmes in our new venue, ‘The Dream Centre’ which we are establishing in Trench Town in partnership with others and with the Light. This community centre will be a Kingdom outpost in the community, beginning this month.  

And this, this is what August this year has taught me;  Darkness deal’s it’s blows, but it will never overcome the Light. There is certainly a battle raging, but the war is won already.

‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:4-5

The day after we heard the news of Princess’s murder I began to write a poem. A poem about this now-and not yet existence we live in where the light threads of the Kingdom of God are woven amongst the threads of the Kingdom of darkness. Where terrible poverty, violence and despair dwells amidst the never ending light of hope. This is my reflection on the reality of the last month… the reality of the Light that never leaves us and the darkness all around us.

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That day darkness took you from this earth,

Tormenting you until you breathed your last.

That day they left you dumped like dirt,

And emptied out your mother’s cradled arms.

That day Jesus met you at the gates,

lifting you in safe and gentle arms.

This day you know all the love of heaven,

Free from fear, free from grief, free from harm.

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This day we cry to God, our Father,

This day we know He sees, He hears.

This day we beat down heavens door,

Because we know we need the love of heaven here.

This day we are heard and answered,

This day God is moving in the mess.

This day light is dawning in the darkness,

This day His Kingdom walks along these streets.

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One-day here these streets won’t rule with violence,

One-day here these streets won’t run with tears,

One-day little girls will live in freedom,

Free from harm, free from grief, free from fear.

One-day we won’t long for heaven,

because one-day all heaven will be here.

One-day at the gates you’ll skip to meet us,

Without pain, without grief, without fear.

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That day they robbed your father empty,

That day they shot your brother down.

That day, your mother beat you bleeding,

That day fear and violence ruled this town.

That day you felt the burn of poverty,

That day your marriage took a hit,

That day they robbed you of your dignity,

That day you stood thirsty in the heat.

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This day we cry to God, our Father,

This day we know He sees, He hears.

This day we beat down heavens door,

Because we know we need the love of heaven here.

This day we are heard and answered,

This day God is moving in the mess.

This day light is dawning in the darkness,

This day His Kingdom walks along these streets.

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One-day you’ll get fair wages for your labour,

One-day the stress of poverty will lift.

One-day every belly will be filled,

One-day all tears will end and grief will cease.

One-day we won’t long for heaven,

because one-day all heaven will be here.

One-day at the gates you’ll skip to meet us,

Without pain, without grief, without fear.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Laurie Wallace says:

    Thank you once again Liz. The Spirit of God has flowed through you and produced a beautiful and powerful poem. You have captured the heartache and the victory, the darkness and the light and proclaimed a wonderful victory, that truly Light (the light of Jesus) overcomes the cruel darkness. God bless.

    Like

  2. Thank You Lizzie. The children’s messages on the broken cement bricks; the photo of the little girl in pink with uneven teeth, a bit smile, and “Chosen”…an entry to their world.

    Like

  3. Jill I'ANSON says:

    A poignant and touching message right from the depths of your heart. It took me on a journey of utter despair to a place of hope, joy and expectation of a wonderful Hewven. Thanks for sharing so deeply and leading me on the journey with you.

    Like

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