Sunday, January 24, 2010

Love Has a Face

Last night I was reading the book I review below, Love Has a Face by Michelle Perry, about the author's experiences running an orphanage in the Sudan. The story is inspiring and amazing, and made me think about my identity in God.

There's a story in the book about a little girl named Katia whose mother committed suicide and was taken in along with her three sisters. Initially quiet and reserved, she's become known for her love of song and memorizing every worship song she hears. At five years old, she's started memorizing the Bible in English and doesn't find it to be a chore or duty, but is filled with joy and freedom in the knowledge that she is a child of God.

I am a child of God. I know this without a doubt, but I don't have the same joy and freedom little Katia and the rest of the children at Michelle's orphanage experience in that knowledge. This revelation stunned me and forced me to do some soul-searching. I think that I am so caught up in trying to live up to or shed the labels assigned to me, that I forget about the most important one of all. I am mom, wife, daughter, sister, only child, stepchild, employee, RA sufferer, American, Wisconsinite, stay-at-home mom, blogger, writer, Christian, Baptist, evangelical, overweight, poor, former teen mom, in debt. Every one of these identities pulls at me. I think that most of us in Western civilization are in similar circumstances. We are covered with names, labels, and identities that suck up our attention, time, and resources.

These children in the Sudan could easily wear labels too: orphan, neglected, hungry, poor, abandoned, but the love of God that shines through Perry has instead given them the only identity they will ever need: child of God, and in that is such freedom and joy that I find myself envying them.

Michelle Perry says in the book: Blessed are the poor in spirit for they know their need. I say in response: Cursed are we who surround ourselves with things thinking it will fill the empty place inside, foolishly believing we are rich, never believing that we are in need of anything.

I don't know how to break through all of the layers and labels the surround me, but I want to, and that's the first step in this journey.

Love Has a Face by Michelle Perry is the inspiring story of the author's work at an orphanage in the Sudan. Perry's story is beautiful and thick with the power of God's love. She tells story after story of His amazing grace working through the lives of these small children who have come to find their identity in Him. Despite being born missing her left hip, leg, and kidney, she never focuses on her lack or uses it as an excuse to do less. She's fallen in love with God's heart and wants to share His love with the people who need it most. From garbage dumps and bars to prisons and army camps, she has spread God's Word throughout Sudan. Perry has learned to rely on God for provision in the direst of circumstances, talking her way out of a machine gun pointed in her face, providing lollipops for over 200 people when she knew only 96 were there. Not every miracle is huge, like the the parting of the Red Sea, but each day is filled with small miracles as God has blessed this home to over 80 children who would otherwise starve in this war-ravaged country. The stories are often so jaw-dropping, that I repeatedly gave the book to my husband saying, "You have to read this!" Perry always points to God as the source of the blessings, refusing to accept glory for herself. Her story will galvanize readers into being more active with their faith, to reach out to all of God's children with His love, which is just what Perry would want.

Thank you to the Baker Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Today's picture has nothing to do with the post; I just thought it was a sweet reflection of mother/child love.