One of the great privileges I have as Director of Marketing and Retail for True Vineyard is working on the profiles of the women we employ. When a woman joins the True Vineyard family, she has regular meetings with our on-site counselors so that we may learn her story and find out what she has been through in her life. Our counselors are brilliant, but English is not their first language, so it is my job to take the information they gather and turn it into the paragraphs you see when you visit the “Meet our Women” page of our website. (Have you stopped by there yet? You really should.)
Recently, I was going over the information sent to us for one of our newer hires, Delphine. Delphine was born in 1991 and, when the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi broke out, she was a very ill toddler in the throes of the meningitis that would ultimately leave her deaf. As people were being butchered around them, Delphine’s mother made the decision to join a group of refugees and flee Rwanda…on foot.
Delphine was so sick she was unable to walk and her mother was forced to carry her as they ran for their lives. If you’ve ever held a sleeping toddler for long you know just how heavy they become, lying limp in your arms. You may remember the feeling of trying to make it from your car to their upstairs bedroom as your back began to twinge and arms began to burn.
But, Delphine’s mother wasn’t carrying her to a bedroom. She was carrying her, on foot, to another country.
Eventually, the weight took its’ toll and Delphine’s mother was forced to slow her pace. I imagine her trying to keep up, desperately shifting her sick child in order to find a position that will provide her exhausted muscles with a moment of relief – that will give her the chance to stay with the group a bit longer. But the weight was relentless and the others began to protest. At some point, one of the refugees voiced what the others were thinking:
Why don’t you just put her down?
She is so sick she likely won’t survive.
Leave her so we have a chance.
If this sounds like it should have been a ridiculous option, I promise it wasn’t. This is not an isolated story. Many families were forced to make impossible choices in order to survive. One of the other ladies working for us knows nothing of her biological family because she was left as an infant, at the height of the dying in 1994, on a bridge. In a plastic bin. Alone. (But that is a story for another post). So many of our ladies suffer from the trauma that results from their being abandoned: by their parents, by their husbands, by society.
Maybe that is what stirs my heart about Delphine’s story. At a time when so many were making impossibly tragic choices, this part of Delphine’s story ended beautifully.
When Delphine spoke of the moment she said, “The others told my mother to leave me behind.”
“But she loved me too much.”
“And so…she carried me on.”
I cried the first time I read these words. I’m crying as I type them again. It’s an impossible love, one that says “You’re never too great a burden. You’re never too much. You’re mine.”
How great a love is this? And how reflective of Christ’s love for us? One of the greatest joys of working for these ladies is knowing they have the opportunity to know Christ.
Did you know the ladies spend an hour every morning in worship before starting their workday? Can you imagine how different our daily outlook would be if we allowed ourselves the time to start our day off so joyfully?
I love that our ladies, many of whom never knew their biological parents, are being introduced to their Heavenly Father. I love that those who did know one or both of their parents and were abandoned by them are getting to know a Father who will never leave, who never tires in His relentless pursuit of their hearts…
Who, when they are at their weakest, their most hopeless, gently gathers them close and whispers…
I love you too much.
I’ll carry you on.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart...