How do we know God loves us?
Answer this question to yourself: “How do we know God loves us?” Now give another answer.
After studying the Father’s love for the Son in John’s gospel, along with our daily observations on life and mission, may we suggest some additional answers to this question. First, we know God’s love for us because He shows us what He is doing:
“For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He himself is doing…” (John 5:20; NASB)
Second, seeing what God is doing leads to sacrificial obedience:
“For this reason my Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.” (John 10:17; NASB)
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My Commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love…Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:9-10, 13; NASB)
Yes, God’s love strengthens, forgives, and cares for us. His love also provides security, peace, and joy. As parents, we hope our love for our children impacts them according to the way of God’s love for His children. Likewise, we trust that God’s love through the ministry of Kids Alive International will work in the same way in the lives of the abandoned and vulnerable children that we serve. Additionally, because of the reality of God’s love, our aim is that these children will see what He is doing and obey sacrificially.
As we serve with Kids Alive Peru, we see Father’s Day in a new way. This day spotlights something that is ultimately and completely only found in God – a loving Father who gives life. This is something He is doing throughout the earth, and the fatherless see this through the tears of being lost and now found. Many of the children in our programs, and especially those in The Orchard Children’s Home, have no father present in their lives. Still, Father’s Day is an occasion for celebration throughout the culture. For Mark, this meant he was able to accompany The Orchard children to their school Father’s Day program. Whether or not a biological father is present in their lives, it is good to celebrate the love of our Heavenly Father and to stand in the gap where gaps exist in reflecting this love on earth. One of the boys and one of the girls gave Mark a Father’s Day keychain in the days following the event. Many parents think nothing of carrying the trinkets and keychains that our children give us throughout life. Now we are grateful to carry a couple keychains for children without fathers to do so. Simply being present in the lives of the abandoned and vulnerable children is one way of showing them what their Father is doing, which demonstrates His love for them. Psalm 68:5-6 confirms that this is the nature of our God and what He is doing:
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” (NIV)
What God is doing is making things new. In June, a combined service team from two churches (one from Western Pennsylvania and the other from West Virginia) spent a week with us to install a new playground at The Orchard Children’s Home, which had been donated to Kids Alive Peru several years ago through the ministry of Rich Anderson, who works with strategic partnerships for Kids Alive International. This team served diligently and forged many lasting connections with the children, and the team members’ own lives and perspectives and plans were impacted in important ways through the experience. So what does God making everything new have to do with a playground? Consider some of the verses that Mark read at the dedication service for the playground, which stir the hopeful imagination in seeing how God makes things new:
“Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’ “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’” (Zechariah 8:3-5; NASB)
Rescued children at play is an important sign of our Father’s work in making all things new!
God’s love is revealed in what He is doing as a Father to the fatherless and as the Creator and Redeemer who makes all things new. His love also reveals how He sends His children to sacrificially obey Him in His mission.
Our aim extends beyond rescue to raising up children in the love of God. If they are to be raised in God’s love, then they must also be sent through sacrificial obedience in God’s love. God’s love cannot be contained. It overflows in love for others. We recently took the children from The Orchard on a field trip to South American Mission Air, which helps missionaries from Peru and other nations travel into remote parts of the Amazon Jungle, to share the good news with those who have never heard – that they too may be rescued and raised up as God’s children. More than an outing, this trip is a picture of holding before rescued children the vision that they can be a part of the rescue of others in the ways that God has created them to participate. One of the children in our home said he wants to be a pilot one day. Maybe this field trip was for him. Certainly it was for all the children a sign that God’s love not only comforts, but it also compels us to go out and serve others with the message of rescue and restoration through our Father and His Son, our Savior and Lord.
Along the way, we have shared in the love of God with interns, who have been sent to serve alongside of us this summer. Their experiences have been filled with wisdom and understanding, which promise to order their steps going forward. Their feedback has provided amazing testimonies of God at work in their relationships, courses of study, and vision for the future. Through these connections, we participate in God’s love by sending interns out from their experience in Peru to continued obedience in God’s kingdom.
Though all year feels like summer in the jungle, a break from school for the children provides that “summer vacation” feel that they enjoy so much. We have had a number of experiences as a family in the midst of our Peruvian family during this summer vacation, including a trip to the beautiful waterfall called Boqueron, a “Frozen” birthday party for Rachel and many of her friends, picking Camu Camu fruit, a 4th of July picnic, and everyday adventures in the jungle. (See more family “summer” vacation pictures at the bottom of this post).
Years ago, we planted a cherry tree in Victoria’s honor in our front yard in Millersville, PA (notice how big it is in the picture from our springtime visit). Now we are grateful to have a cherry tree planted in Victoria Grace’s honor in our front yard in Peru. A latest chapter in her legacy has played out through the life and death of Mark’s Uncle Larry. His story was profoundly impacted by Victoria’s life and testimony. Through this God showed Larry what He is doing, and Larry obeyed by sacrificially belonging to God and worshipping Him with each breath – the only thing He could do at the end of his life. His breathing extended multiple days beyond anyone’s expectations. Now his eternal life will impact others as his legacy joins with Victoria’s in belonging to the Father and blessing other children. To learn more about his life and “The Uncle Larry Memorial” of Victoria’s Little Lambs Fund, click here.
May we all see His work and obey sacrificially for His glory!
Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel Coté
Missionaries of Discipleship and Development based in Pucallpa, Peru
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