Easter. I am always mindful and very aware of this time of year.
Easter in my childhood was different than the Easter I have come to know as an adult missionary in Asia. Holy week is the most significant holiday for many here. But, what there is that is holy always leaves me stunned with so many questions.
I remember the chocolate bunny from my grandmother that was childhood Easter.
And the turkey dinner with family that had come from afar.
And the Easter Sunday morning joyous celebrations of Jesus is Risen!
Aside from feeling sad that Jesus had been crucified, there was nothing that felt dark. Easter was safe and warm.
Now, all grown up, with 140 children in my care, I struggle at Easter. There are no chocolate eggs to hide, nor are there roast turkey dinners with families. This is a place where there is no innocence. The darkness of Maudy Thursday and Black Friday is known to even the children—there is darkness and fear.
Men are already preparing. During Easter week, they will walk for hours in the hot streets, beating themselves in a tranquilizing rhythm. Vivid re-enactments of the crucifixion will touch almost every community. They have missed seeing the saving power of the Cross and they hang themselves on makeshift crosses … begging for mercy because of murder, drugs, violence, and hatred. Others beat themselves beyond recognition, begging God to bless them and to please, please, please … forgive them.
The darkness is not only seen. It is felt.
Recently, a little boy stood awkwardly before me, clutching a dirty blue bag of smelly “hand-me-down” clothes. His paperwork said … Foundling. Unwanted. Name unknown. Age unknown. His speech was garbled. His body full of scars. But, it was the terror in his fleeting eyes that struck me. I knelt down. Who did this to you, I asked? I could not help but touch the startling scar, the disfigured leg, and his little cheek. His eyes locked in on mine. I didn’t move.
My heart is heavy. Do we have room, Lord? Can I love another one, Lord? Our home is so full. And some of us are weary … Weary of the fight. Weary of doing good.
Is there any hope?
Just as His arms were stretched out on that horrible Cross of Calvary.
I hear His voice. I am hope for you. You.
My tears fall like rain.
I AM your Easter, my child.
—Charity and Evan Graff are directors of Gentle Hands in Manila, Philippines, a child and youth welfare agency meant to be on the frontlines of rescue and rehabilitation of the medical, social, and educational needs of at-risk children and youth, working towards improving human community life through the love of Jesus and family-centered care. Gentle Hands is licensed and registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.