LUKE 4:18-19 (NIV) | “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
It’s 7:50 AM. My team and I are looking for the youth we work with on the street. I wander around the park until I see an all-too-familiar brown sweatshirt. It’s Victor. He is peacefully asleep, basking in a pool of warm sunshine. I sit beside Victor, who awakens shortly after, proud to be the first to greet him: “Buenos dias!”
The Spirit of the Lord is on me to proclaim good news to the poor.
Just then, two policemen get out and walk towards us. They look at Victor. “You are not cooperating so you are coming with us,” they say. I stand up and ask why they want Victor. “We have an order for his arrest.” “For what?” I inquire. “For sleeping on the street,” they reply as they come towards Victor, aggression in their stride and determination on their faces.
A fighting lion spirit arises in me — I imagine this is God’s spirit in me rising to contend. I inform them that I will walk with Victor to their truck, but there is no need to use force. They lead us to a lady, a social worker of sorts, who starts talking about her “order” to arrest Victor and another boy named Mario; they are already convicted prisoners in her mind.
I feel the urge, the Spirit upon me, to defend them. “What good are you doing if you send these youth to a temporary home where they are abused? I know Victor and Mario. Please let them stay with us. Just last week Victor helped serve pancakes to shoeshine guys in the park.”
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.
Then I see the TV cameras, ready to shoot images of Victor fighting with the police out of frustration and fear. Tears flood my eyes. I walk over to them. “Come on guys, not like this, don’t film them right now. If you want to film, come tomorrow morning when we serve pancakes.”
They stop in their tracks. We explain that the boys are our friends, and they are human beings, created in God’s image. Quickly, the scene changes and the newsmen start interviewing our team. We later find out that the news people came so that the police could publicize their act of “cleaning up the streets”. God used the chain of events to take the blinders off the news crew’s eyes so that they could see clearly.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim recovery of sight for the blind.
This is an example of the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressor. Here in Xela, we are engaged in a battle — in a fight for the oppressed in our midst.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to set the oppressed free.
Several hours later, a photo of the cops struggling with Victor appeared on Facebook. A journalist posted it, criticizing how the police treat youth like Victor.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- When have you sensed God’s Spirit rise within you to contend for someone? how did you respond to this prompting?
- Who are the oppressed or poor in your midst? How can you fight for their freedom or share the good news of Jesus with them today?
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Avila and her husband, Julio, have been with CRM since 2006. For the last five years they have served street youth in Xela, Guatemala. In January, they will move with their three daughters to the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela to serve with other InnerCHANGE missionaries in the areas of discipleship, addiction counseling, and trauma work.