It’s Lent, so I’ve got sacrifice on the brain. In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in my life whose extraordinary sacrifice has challenged and inspired me; my Sacrifice Heroes, if you will.
There’s Juan, in Dulce Nombre de Jesus. Since we started digging their water system many, many months ago, not a day has gone by that Juan couldn’t be found covered in dirt, chest-deep in a ditch, digging with far more endurance than you’d expect from someone his age (a spry 60-ish, I’d say). That sacrifice alone – that of his time – is enormous. But if you talk to Juan, you’ll learn that his commitment to help with the system has required a much bigger sacrifice than meets the eye.
Knowing that the time he dedicated to the system would be time he would otherwise have been able to dedicate to his main source of income – farming – Juan intentionally planted fewer acres of crops this year. That’s a smaller harvest, a smaller profit, and ultimately a smaller budget for his family to live on. This, from a man whose family lived in a palm branch shelter – literally on the edge of survival – only a few years ago. But to Juan the sacrifice is worth it.
And then there’s Alvaro, a project manager on our Water and Sanitation Team. Alvaro has a wife and two beautiful daughters in Chinandega, but every Sunday he packs a bag so that every Monday he can hitch a ride out to his project site, where he will work, eat, and sleep every day and night until he hitches a ride back home Friday.
Alvaro is a devoted husband and a loving father. But he sacrifices precious time with family every week because he knows that clean water will mean each family in the community where he works will spend every evening with their children, too, instead of losing them to parasites and kidney disease. Alvaro’s family is his life, and he misses them all the time. But to Alvaro the sacrifice is worth it.
But perhaps the most impactful is Matilde in La Chuscada. Matilde lives in a small “house” made of tree limbs and plastic bags with her husband and beautiful children. Matilde is young, kind, and a little shy at first. She’s also a teacher, and passionate about making sure that every child has the chance to learn no matter where they were born or what kind of house they live in.
Until just a few weeks ago when their new school was finally completed, the government couldn’t afford to build a school building in La Chuscada let alone pay salaries to an adequate number of teachers. So for years Matilde taught the children in her community in a little dirt clearing, under a plastic tarp, with almost no supplies, completely for free. Matilde believes every child has the right to an education, so she showed up faithfully every single morning and used one chalkboard to teach two grades and she never got a penny. But to Matilde the sacrifice was worth it.
And, thinking about these three friends – Juan, Alvaro, and Matilde – got me thinking about myself. I suppose I make sacrifices. I volunteer a couple hours of my free time, donate my extra clothes, work a special line item into my monthly budget so I can support nonprofits and ministries I believe in.
But what if God asked me to sacrifice something that I have always assumed I was unable to sacrifice? Something big, and hard, like my standard of living, or time with my family, or my income entirely? What if God asked me to love others by sacrificing something I always thought I couldn’t afford to lose?