Love among the Ruins
The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.1 John3:8b
In 2010 a devastating earthquake took the lives of at least 230,000 Haitians. Matt Labash, senior writer for the Weekly Standard, wrote a compelling article following the earthquake called “Love Among the Ruins.” The article describes the work of Father Rick Frechette, founder and director of the Haitian branch of the international children’s organization known simply as “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”. At the time of the earthquake, his organization served the Haitian poor by providing free pediatric care, operating schools, and providing running water and food in Port-au-Prince’s worst slums.
According to Labash, the earthquake aftermath is just one of many unspeakable horrors Father Rick has seen during his time in Haiti. He describes one occasion where Frechette was on his way to visit some nuns one afternoon and he saw a teen aged boy burning in the street. A gang had set the boy on fire. The boy was already dead by the time Father Rick arrived on the scene. Even though there was nothing that could be done for the boy, Father Rick drove ahead and returned to the scene with five buckets of water and the nuns. They got out of the truck, took the buckets, and extinguished the flames consuming the boy’s body.
“We put him in the back of the truck, and do what we always do,” Father Rick said. “Have a prayer right there, to make a counter-witness by our own behavior.” The gang that set him on fire stood there and watched as we did these things.” These actions are consistent with Father Rick’s stated mission to “repair the damage done” by sin in the world by making grace present in a world where it is often conspicuously absent.
The dead boy’s mother was in the crowd watching the tragedy unfold. Paralyzed by the horror of it all, she was shocked to see someone stop and help her son. Everything she wished she could have done for her son was done by strangers. Word of the mother’s gratitude for their actions found its way back to Father Rick. Of all the emotions the woman was entitled to feel, Father Rick didn’t think that gratitude would have been one of them. Their actions on behalf of her son “made her able to live with it,” Frechette thinks. “It’s like God sent someone to help her, like it restored her faith in humanity again. I call it the countersign.”
Consider again John’s simple statement, “The son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus is God’s countersign in a world that struggles to find hope, working to repair what sin has broken in our lives and communities both now and for eternity. In so doing, Jesus makes grace present in the world in a way that demands a response. Our appropriate response is to join with Jesus in his mission of hope, serving as a countersign that draws others to the one who has destroyed the work of the devil in our own lives.
You are the light of the world. … let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Mt 5:14-16)
Take time today to consider the work of Jesus in your own life. How have you responded to what he has done for you? Commit today to letting the light of Jesus shine through you as you follow Jesus in his great mission to redeem the world.
Let’s Pray: Thank you, Father, for making your grace present in my life. Open my eyes to opportunities for making that grace present in the world today. In Jesus name, Amen