16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. — Matthew 5:16
The Light of Christ
by Betty Wiseman
It was one of the darkest places I have ever been, not just another favela (slum) in RIO, Brazil. It was called “The Invasion.” After more than a year, my mind continues to go back to all I saw and experienced. There is absolutely no way to describe it. Poverty, filth, abandonment, drugs, alcohol, addiction, loneliness—darkness! Our women’s basketball team and coaches were there with Sharon Fairchild. We had been invited into this place by a man and a woman, both products of The Invasion. By the grace of God, they overcame and now live and provide ministry inside this favela at a “Safe Place” for children to come for food, clothing, and genuine love and care.
We climbed the steps, uneven and steep. Only with God’s help and the helping hands of my teammates was I able to make the trek up and up and up. On the side of this mountain, in the midst of make-shift homes, was a play area for children—fenced in, concrete, about 20 x 30 feet. Four players and I continued to climb higher, at the request of one of our hosts, to visit a heroin addict.
There she sat—in a dirt path outside her place of residence—oblivious to her surroundings, unkempt, alone, sick, high on drugs. The players froze! This was totally out of anyone’s comfort zone. Our host spoke with her, turned to us and said, “Will one of you come, lay hands on her, and pray for her?” I waited for one of the girls to move forward. I was just trying to get my breath.
I slowly moved from the rear of the group, asking God to forgive me for hesitating and for my thoughts. Did she have a disease—was she contagious? I had to throw my fear to the wind. Kneeling before her, I gently took her face in my hands. As I held her, she began to focus on my eyes, and I said, “Don’t be afraid. We are here, in the name of Jesus, to love you and tell you that God cares for you. He knows you, He created you in His own image, and He loves you.”
I continued to talk to her about God’s love and the hope we have in His son, Jesus. I slowly moved my hands down her arms as I talked. I held her hands, loved her with all the power of Christ within me. All the while, I was weeping inside over this lost soul in this darkest of places. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes—as if she were looking into my soul. As I prayed for her, I felt a calming assurance of God’s powerful presence and His infinite mercy and grace. It would be a defining moment in my life.
The girls then responded with hugs and love. We moved back down that mountain, very slowly, to the play area. About an hour later a player tapped me on the shoulder. Here was the woman, the addict, holding her small son, maybe two years old. I was surprised. She looked different. I would not have recognized her. A teammate said, “Betty, she wants you to pray for her son like you prayed for her.” I was humbled and honored to do just that! I took him in my arms, held him, prayed for this innocent child in a very dark world. She continued to hang around the play area, receiving love and genuine care from members of our team.
There were powerful lessons learned that day, on top of that mountain. There are many dark places in this world that need “the light of Christ” to shine brightly. Our players learned what that “light” might look like, and that we are called to be “the light.” I was reminded that someone is always watching me, regardless of where I am.
The message is clear: “Let your light shine…to the glory and praise of your Father who is in heaven.” I often think of that woman, the darkness, the need, and the uncommon lesson learned. The “light of Christ” shines brightly in dark places, has no boundaries, no hesitation, no fear. And we, His children, are called to carry the light, to be the “light of Christ.”
- To whom is God calling you to be the “light of Christ” in their dark place today?
- What dark place in your own life requires courage, throwing fear to the wind, in order to be the “light of Christ?”
- A point to consider: to be the “light of Christ” is an act of worship!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.