Monday, June 04, 2007

Taking Out a Second Mortgage

A friend of mine in Sevilla, Spain, recently took out a second mortgage on his house. Not in order to do any renovations on his already beautiful home. Not to buy a new car or pay off credit card debts. Not in order to make a downpayment on a house by the sea. No, not even close.

He and his wife extracted equity from their home and extended their mortgage payments in order to buy a building in the inner city section of Sevilla to establish a church. It's the same church I went to visit last October. At the end of a tiny strip of shops and bars, there sits the church of Nueva Sion - New Zion. Inside that church, this small group of Christ-followers sings, prays, and listens to my friend speak about the truths of Christ and His love for all men, women, and children. Inside that church, they also offer free cooking classes to women and English as a Second Language classes to children in the neighborhood.

When I went there last October with three other women, we offered workshops on music and journaling as well. We sat outside and painted the fingernails of young girls, painted faces on children, and helped set up an outdoor concert on Columbus Day - remember that "in 14-hundred and 92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." He began his journey in Sevilla and that's where he ended it as well - his body is buried in the cathedral there.

There we were, practically in the shadow of that enormous cathedral, spending time with some of the poorest people in the city. Offering hope and love in an area where hope and love seemed to be in short supply. Rubbing hands and elbows literally - with cream during our mini-manicures - and figuratively - while cleaning up the local park - with my friend and our brothers and sisters in the faith, we touched and loved dozens of people that the tourists in Sevilla never see. Over and over they asked us, "Why are you doing this? Why are you here?" Our answer was both simple and preposterous: Because we love you and Jesus loves you.

They took out a second mortgage. A huge financial risk. And for what?
To show an oft-neglected neighborhood that they are loved.
To teach mothers who have few resources how to extend their meager provisions to feed their families well.
To teach children who have low educational expectations that they can increase their personal and professional potential by speaking English as well as Spanish.
To tell another chapter of the greatest story of love, grace, and risk ever told.

After all, what greater risk can Anyone take than to reach out and touch lepers, to feed and heal untouchable men, women, and children, and speak one-on-one with women in a society where men prayed and gave thanks that they were not born a woman?

What greater risk can Anyone take than to challenge the status quo of wealth, power, and prestige by turning over the tables of money changers, by critizing the supposedly most religious men in the nation in public places, and by breaking Sabbath laws established hundreds of years before by healing a crippled man - all in the temple?

What greater risk can Anyone take than sending their one and only Son into battle, into an embittered and violent world, not with guns and bombs, but with love, forgiveness, grace, peace, light, hope, and healing in His soon-to-be-pierced hands?

And what about that Son, the one who could have rejected the entire plan and asked God to come up with another one, what about the amazing, risky, unrequited love that He showed 2000+ years ago and continues to show today?

Is a 25-year mortgage risky at all in comparison with that kind of love?

Makes me wonder: What am I willing to take a second mortgage for?


Nancy said...

Thanks for sharing this story Gail. I'm not one that takes risks easily; this really puts things into perspective.

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