The Town that Love Builds

Thursday, June 27, 2013 Posted by Sara

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I've had the great privilege this past week to land back in Cairo, Illinois.  For our Daily Fast Fuel regulars, you have probably read about this little town before.  I spent 6 years there as a missionary after I graduated from college. 

Cairo has certainly had its share of hardships.  And for this reason, many of its inhabitants are still in need of healing and restoration.  Many of our friends there, beautiful as they are, struggled with addictions, stealing, and trust issues.  God had called us to love each one He put in front of us, even when their actions hurt us.  

One young girl quickly became knitted to our hearts. Her home life was rough and we simply did what we could to bless her and love on her as God opened doors.  In one particular instance, we opened our house up to her to stay because her home was unsafe.  When we saw her taking items from our basement out the back door to her mother's vehicle, awaiting a get-a-way with some these new goods, our hearts broke.  We felt betrayed and manipulated.  God again challenged us to love her - stirring forgiveness in us, helping us understand the brokenness inside of her.  So we did.  We continued to act with grace and kindness to her, even trusting her again to come into our home.  Not long after, her family moved out of Cairo. I had often wondered what God did with our little seeds of love in this girl's life.

A few years later, while still in Cairo I heard a knock on the door.  There she was, many inches taller with a huge smile on her face.  She was only in town visiting, but wanted to make sure she stopped by. Her face was a glow with reports of how well she was doing in school and how she now had an after school job. Life was looking up for her, and she simply wanted to say "thank you" for always being there for her.  

Love is powerful.  Perhaps that's why Christ asks us to love our enemies - because it releases transformation in their lives - and in ours. Cairo is transforming.  After my four year hiatus, I can see the difference - neighbors out helping one another repair their homes and pretty their yards.  The friendliness in conversation and laughter between residents is striking from what I used to see in day to day life here.  Love is rising here.  Love is rebuilding a town.  Imagine what love is capable of, if not relegated to only those we find it easy to love.  

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