I had a meeting today with someone. Not a pleasant meeting. It was in regards to a Church's clothing ministry. The leader broke a rule (selling bags of clothes to other retailers) after we had talked about how that was prohibited many times (there were rumors, which he denied, but no evidence until now.) We revoked half of his weekly amount of clothing that the evangelism ministry for that Church, which he represented, has in the past received. I thought about revoking his privilege to any clothing, but because the Church's evangelism ministry and staff depend on the clothing, this seemed a better alternative while still making the point that will not be tolerated.
The whole exchange was not pleasant, and certainly not something we investigated or tried to prove, it was just something that fell into our laps, as it were. Once we had the information though, we could not ignore it.
Talking about it today...I suppose I should not have been shocked, but this leader al though admitting his mistake, justified it by saying other people did it, saying it met needs they had, etc. When I asked him if a wrong is justified if we claim it is for a good in the end?...he answered, yes. One of the top three leaders in the Church telling me this more than once as I expressed my shock? Wow.
Then he did something that reminded me so much of the political and social scene in Honduras. He somewhat insincerely admitted he made a mistake, and in the same breath asked if we could just forget it and "get back to the way things were."
Getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar does not happen often here...politicians and those in power seem to have a powerful way of spinning things or creating smoke screens which seem to carry their problems away. Even when people are caught in the wrong, with a little time, some bribes, etc. things tend to go away.
So his reaction of thinking he could guilt me and through up a smoke screen of justifications to get things "back to normal" did not really surprise me. Why should it...it happens here all the time. People do not have to have any consequences to their actions, whether they are corrupt, robbing politicians/or other government employees, thieves caught and released over and over again, men who leave women over and over again pregnant...and the list goes on.
People often ask how we deal with the overwhelming needs around us. Most of those times I share the story of the man walking along the beach seeing starfish washed on the shore for as far as the eye can see. He finds a boy picking up the starfish and throwing them back in the ocean. He remarks to the boy, "What are you doing? There are millions of starfish here, you can't possibly throw them all back. You aren't really going to make a difference." The boy answers him, picking up another starfish, "I might not be able to save them all, but I can make a difference for this one."
There is a comfort there in that story...in the realization that we can not do it all, but rather only do what is given to us to do, but still...it can be overwhelming in the literal sense of that word. So many people, so many needs, so many opportunities, so much poverty, destruction, violence, and more, and more and more.
And on days like today, you fail to see the starfish in the ocean thriving, producing, rejoicing in life (such as the women's counseling ministry opening the little shop near the clinic today to provide food for waiting patients and family members, providing opportunities for them to make contact with people that need their help, all while making a small source of income for themselves.)
These days are, thanks be to God, rare...the days when some starfish seem to wash back up on shore anyway.
So, if I still seem somewhat sane to you...then glory to God, because I can truthfully admit that if not for Him... the pressures, the overwhelming needs and opportunities, would have done me in by now, and that is no exaggeration.
He is faithful, where I fail.
His timing is perfect, no matter what my senses tell me.
His will...not mine.