Faith in Action – Day 27

June 27
“Mercy Beyond the Barbed Wire”
Shelby Putnam
Gardner-Webb University

“doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)

After the guard patted me down and we all walked into the jail, I saw her. She was fourteen
years old, had been a gang member for a few years at that point, and loved to dance. I had
been living in Honduras for six weeks, and every week when we went to visit the girls’ jail I
would try to get her to talk to me…to open up. When you are raised to not trust anyone, I cannot
imagine the difficulty in trusting a stranger that doesn’t even speak your language. We
communicated through broken English and Spanish mixed with a lot of random hand gestures.
This was the day that she would tell me why she was in jail, and it was more than my heart
could handle.

The details of why she was in jail are not nearly as relevant as my response to them. When she
told me what she had done, I thought through every book I had read about justice and grace
that I could recite to her. I am thankful for the mercy of God that allowed me to realize later what
I had done in that moment. Immediately, I talked with her about what grace and mercy was, or
at least what I had memorized it to be. It wasn’t until I got home that I sat and cried, realizing the
extent to which the same grace and mercy pours over me. It seemed far simpler to act as if
there was a different form of justice and mercy for the two of us when there was barbed wire
between us.

However, I quickly learned that those walls do not separate God from His children. This young
lady told me then about what God had done for her, and how the cross has changed her life.
She explained that she was the only Christian in her family, and while that made her fearful of
persecution, it also strengthened her reliance on God. Her faithfulness displayed the mercy of
God like I had never recognized in my own life before. As soon as I left her that day, I spent
hours sitting with God reflecting on how I could live the message of mercy instead of simply
reciting it. Learning more about God is a beautiful journey that has come from people and
places that I never expected, and this was one of those moments. The rest of my time in
Honduras was filled with moments like this, and I was able to invest in the girls who taught me
more about the just, merciful, and faithful God that we serve.