What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?-Matthew 18:12
The past couple of weeks we have been having a hard time finding the children in the streets. We are not the only ones having this problem. Several social agencies have reported the same problem. The children are there. There are about 300 homeless children and teens in the old center of São Paulo. This is a recent count. This number excludes those who are squatting with their families in the abandoned buildings. This would increase the number drastically. The children are in the streets but we cannot find them. So, we have to look for them. We spend hours seeking them in the red light district. We do find one or two and we spend quality time with these but where are the others?
The process of seeking the children is very much part of this ministry. It is not a ministry where we sit and wait for people to come to us. Many times it is the monotony of seeking that discourages people in this work. Many things go through our minds when we do not find the children. We wonder whether we are doing anything worthwhile. We wonder if our presence here is worth the time and effort. These questions are important and it is only human to have these questions. However, the answer can only be found when we discover the what the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst. We are not here to prove the worth of our existence or the validity of the ministry. We are here to participate in what the Holy Spirit is doing. When we discover this, then the other questions are subtly answered.
Jesus tells us that the Good Shepherd seeks the one lost sheep. The mindset of the world is to write off the one sheep as a loss and concentrate on the 99 sheep. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush so to speak but the Good Shepherd thinks differently.
It might appear foolish to risk the 99 sheep and look for the lost one. There is lots of foolishness in the Bible. A devout Muslim once told me that he though it was foolish that God would become Man. He is right, it is foolish. It is even more foolish that He would die on the Cross. It is foolish that God would even bother with humanity. It appears foolish that God would love those who hate him as St. Paul states Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This is the epitome of all foolish actions, to love those who hate you.
Foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.-1Corinthians1:25.
This divine foolishness can only be understood when we allow the love of God to overflow in our hearts and mind. Divine foolishness opens eyes to see a new wisdom. A wisdom that is greater than the philosophies of this world. The wisdom brings a fresh understanding why we need to seek those who are hiding and afraid to receive God’s love.
The parable of the lost sheep spoke to the shepherds in Jesus’ time. They knew that finding one lost frightened sheep in the wilderness is not an easy task and not to mention a dangerous one. They also knew the joy involved in finding the one that was lost and bringing it back safely home.
Many in this city would prefer if the children would disappear altogether (not in a good way). Many of the parents of these children are not even seeking them. Either they have given up on these children or they never cared and maybe a little of both. Only the Holy Spirit seeks these children. Only the Holy Spirit knows their worth and value to God the Father. When we participate in the ministry of the Holy Spirit we begin to see and understand the Love of the father for His lost sheep. We learn by knowing and experiencing that the Father did the same for us. It is His love for us that motivates us to seek the ones whom He loves deeply.
These children need to know that even if they are lost in the world of drugs and despair, they are not forgotten. They are trying to flee away from something but they can never escape from God’s love. As long as the Holy Spirit is seeking the lost sheep, we are going to walk for miles and find the lost sheep so that he or she will know that God does not give up on anyone.