We Are The Beloved
Alex Salzwedel is the Pastor of Operations at Bridgetown. Alex has been traveling to Nicaragua for seven years, and works not only with Hear the Cry, but also directly with Forward Edge. Forward Edge sponsors La Villa Esperanza, the Village of Hope, in Managua, Nicaragua. La Villa takes in girls and gives them compassion and a home. Alex’s story about God’ love beautifully reminds us that we are all children of God.
I want to be known as a holy and blameless son; one who loves because he knows he is loved.
I want to live within the tension of the now and not yet, saturated with an indescribable and unquenchable hope.
I want my whole life to look as it does during a 7-day trip to La Villa Esperanza in Managua, Nicaragua.
Seven years ago, I traveled to Nicaragua. I headed to La Villa Esperanza, a home for at-risk girls. I was a single dude with two brothers, no girlfriends, and zero knowledge of the “female,” and somehow I ended up on a trip to serve 16 girls, ages 5-16. These girls’ parents had given up day-to-day contact with them, and sent the girls to “The Village of Hope” so that they could escape the threat of intense poverty.
Seven years and eight trips later, I’m officially obsessed. I go to La Villa because I’ve seen glimpses of what God’s unconditional love looks like, not only towards these girls, but towards myself as well. Today, when I head to Nicaragua I see 25-30 girls, ages 12-23, who are not poor, broken, sinful, or stubborn, but who are blameless children of a living God. These girls are royal, so am I. Their dad is King, so is mine.
Four years ago, I watched the most precious 12-year old step away from La Villa. I had come to know Alondra on my first day at La Villa, 3 years prior. Today, at 16, she is pregnant with her 2nd child. The father of her first born was 28-years old and was gone as soon as he showed up.
Alondra is a child of God who is delighted in by her dad.
On Saturday, I said goodbye to Miriam Massiel Morales. My wife and I have known Massiel for 3 years. She’s our 14-year old Nicaraguan little sister and I think she’s perfect. Yes, she struggles to receive my love often because she didn’t learn love growing up. Yes, it’s challenging to communicate with her in my poor Spanish. Yes, she is one of my best friends. And yes, one of my greatest joys is learning to give and receive love alongside her.
Massiel is a child of God who is delighted in by her dad.
At La Villa there is the tension of the now and not yet. On one hand we see injustice– girls who have been abused, broken, and disturbed by a life of injustice and evil. On the other hand, I get to see heaven on Earth every year when I’m there as two dozen girls get to re-learn who they are, beloved daughters of God. I get to stand in the tension of the now and not yet with the vibrant, unwavering hope that Jesus is coming back to make all things right.
In three months, I’m having my first child – a daughter. Eighty percent of my family produces male offspring, and I’m having a girl.
My God is so kind that seven years ago, at the naïve age of 19, he let me go to Nicaragua and learn how much he loves me by teaching me what unconditional love looks like for one of his perfect daughters. In October, I get to lavish my own daughter with the same unconditional love that my perfect father has taught me through the girls at La Villa Esperanza.
This is why I go to Nicaragua ever year: there is a cluster of some of the most beautiful girls the world has ever seen. Regardless of what my year has given me, God lets me wear his glasses for a week to be reminded of what identity looks like in his Kingdom.
WE ARE THE BELOVED.
Alondra is a beloved daughter of God. Massiel is a beloved daughter of God. My own baby girl will be a beloved daughter of God. I am a beloved son of God.