Moving from Honduras to North Africa, Sydney Gracia reflects on several moments of encountering God's peace and promises in moments of vulnerability
Originally from Honduras, Sydney Gracia left to minister with Servant Partners in an informal settlement in North Africa. Sydney works at a community center, offering psychological support to young people, and volunteers at a local nutrition clinic. Here, she reflects on several moments of God’s faithfulness during her life and ministry.
From the smallest to biggest moments, I have seen so much of God’s faithfulness and care in North Africa.
Just before I left Honduras, I was washing the dishes and thinking about the few days I had left with my family. With tears in my eyes, I asked God to guard, sustain, and always take care of them. Just then, a fragile glass tumbler slipped from my hand–one of my mother’s favorites. The glass fell directly on a grinding stone, which I assumed broke it. But as I looked for shards, I saw it was not broken at all–it was perfectly intact. At that moment, I had a deep sense that God was speaking to me, saying, “If this fragile glass was not broken, how much more will I take care of your loved ones and even you?”
Over the last few years in this hot, dry place, God keeps bringing me back to this very moment. As I have been far from my family, I have seen God’s faithfulness and care not only for my loved ones, but for all of us in North Africa. Like the glass, when we are fragile and vulnerable, God is always with us.
I can easily recall many times where I have felt “fragile” in North Africa. Early on, I visited a neighbor’s house and literally did not understand anything because I don’t speak the language. I felt so helpless. I had to learn how to eat with my hand, continuously dropping rice off the plate–to the annoyance and amusement of my neighbors.
More seriously, I experienced an intense vulnerability when our home was burglarized. That same week, one of my very close friends lost her young daughter to a tragic death. In following weeks, we experienced pain upon pain as we received dozens of severely malnourished children at our nutrition clinic. These little ones were frail and weak, and we lived knowing that their chances of survival were slim. I never saw many of them again. But it was in these moments of fragility, that I saw small miracles.
While crying over our neighbor’s little girl’s death, I looked out the window when I saw a little bird wrapped in a leafy nest, with its mother coming to feed it. I heard God speak to my heart, reminding me of His daily, eternal faithfulness, like a bird that feeds and cares for its helpless chick and keeps it in a safe place. “If I care for these desert birds, how much more will I care for my sons and daughters?”
I also see God’s care while giving psychological assistance and listening to the stories of each young person that comes with their problems. The pain, anguish, and trauma they experience are deep. The psychological training helps them, but what really makes an impact are the opportunities God has given me to pray with some of them, as the greatest hope we can offer is Jesus’ healing.
Perla is one of the girls I work with. She is a young girl who has suffered many things, including domestic violence so severe that she lost her first baby. This fear intensified again when she became pregnant with a second baby. She also endured the rejection of her family, who did not support her. One day we prayed for a miracle for her and her family, and miraculously–almost immediately–the family accepted her again, despite her pregnancy. The change was so strong that even her father accompanied her to denounce the abuse she was experiencing at her husband’s hands. After several months, she finally entered the legal process of separation.
I can only say thank you, God for choosing me, a person who feels what it is to be fragile and weak in this world! I know God’s power is fulfilled in my weaknesses. We go forward knowing that the One who has called us goes ahead, sustaining and holding us.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” - 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV