Communitas International starts and shapes communities of faith that love like Jesus in their neighborhoods. In other words, we start churches. And as we do so, our staff across the globe are helping those who are marginalized, defeated, and distraught, to feel a sense of belonging in a Christ-centered community as they experience the love of Jesus.
Marco and Marie* are Communitas missional staff, serving in France. Their community of faith includes a development ministry serving at-risk children and teens. One of the students they serve is Nari*, an eleven year-old girl whom they have been ministering to since 2015, when she was four.
Due to the violent abuse Nari’s mother endured when pregnant with her, Nari was born with a brain injury and continues to struggle with ongoing medical and cognitive issues. Despite her learning difficulties, however, she has managed to master reading, writing and math (currently at 3rd grade level). However, she has been aware for some time that she can’t keep up with her peers academically or physically (her head injury means that she even has to be careful when playing). This is quite frustrating for her, because although she is slower than others to master skills, she is intelligent, capable, and very much aware of what’s going on around her.
In September 2023 she will be in 6th grade, and she will begin going to a special school for kids with disabilities. Recently, Nari asked Marco to go to a meeting with her, arranged by her current teacher to introduce Nari to the principal of the new special school, to talk about her transition. Nari’s mom is very unavailable, being very abusive and neglectful. She did not attend the meeting (and no-one knows if Nari’s father is even alive). Marco and Marie were very moved that Nari invited them into this moment with her, and of course Marco agreed to help this precious girl during this critical moment in her life.
At the meeting, Marco discovered that for several years, Nari had been telling her teachers at school absolutely everything about himself and Marie, their personal lives, their ministry and camps, and all that the ministry has done for her. She had told the school of her reading the Bible with them, that she prays to Jesus, and how much she loves the people and staff at the ministry!
So for the first half of the meeting, the two principals and Nari’s teacher were simply curious to talk to Marco and question him intensely to learn more about his story, what their ministry is about, and why they do the work they do.
Marie was relating this story and mentioned, “Our ministry is a safe haven, where every day we are hoping to bring Christ’s life, love, light, hope and healing to so many children. The reality, however, is that it’s also just a lot of hard work everyday—being present, being consistent, being patient, showing up, making sure there’s food, that the bills get paid, that the government paperwork is correctly filed, that everyone’s birthday is celebrated, and that we show up to meetings at kids’ schools because if we don’t go, no-one else does. Sometimes in the daily struggle of the endless lists of everything that needs to be done, it’s easy to forget the impact that God is making through you and the ministry.”
Marie continues, “Sometimes I forget that for all of the kids we work with, our ministry is literally their entire world; it’s the most important thing in their lives and it’s the reason why they keep showing up every day!”
But through moments like these, people like Marco and Marie are reminded that God is at work and moving in the lives of those they are reaching every day. Sometimes just being present and available and helping others feel a sense of belonging is all that’s needed to bring people into a relationship with Jesus.
Marie relayed this story, and noted that Nari wasn’t upset or surprised that her mom didn’t attend the meeting—she was simply proud, happy and confident that Marco was there for her. Her faith in Jesus, because of ministries like this one, has given her the love, joy, and belonging she needs to continue to grow in her life and in her walk with God.
Please continue to pray for Nari, and so many others like her, who are looking for people to show them the love of Christ and help them know they are cherished, valued, and worth the time.
Please continue to pray for Marco and Marie, and those around the world reaching out every day in the name of Jesus, who are relentlessly serving and standing in the gap for those who truly need it.
(*Names changed for privacy)