Devotional: Answering evil with a greater love

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

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When last I wrote, I was in Guatemala on a mission trip, meeting friends in faith and seeing firsthand the goodness of God’s love working in such a precious place. It was truly amazing to receive the good news from our sisters and brothers there and to bear witness to how they are answering the evil of this world with a greater love.

Just a few decades ago, the government in Guatemala led a terrible and horrific crusade to exterminate the indigenous Mayan population. Without realizing this outcome, the U.S. supplied aid in the effort to build up a “democratic” state. Several hundred thousand people were lost, and the soul of that nation was taken to a dark place. To say it was not very democratic is a tragic understatement.

Today, sisters and brothers are working to change the heart of that nation through theological schooling, through showing young men and women better ways of relating to each other, through giving children more of a hope than street work, through disaster assistance, through curbing emigration, through self-development and through economic opportunity. Seeking human dignity, recognizing the image of God at work in us, they are holding a precious and holy vocation. I found our ministry partners there wonderfully faithful toward the needs all around them.

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Yes, I found their service beautiful in how they value the children of God.

We visited one tiny (30 member) Episcopal church that was carrying out extraordinary ministry to a population of women inmates with children. When drug cartels hook innocent women into their money laundering schemes by opening accounts for them, the women are arrested and sent to prison with their young children whom the prisons do not support with food or other needs. Families on the outside are left scrambling, and this one church helps nearly 120 women each week at the local prison. They meet evil with a greater love. It was impressive for such a small congregation to be up to so much good in God’s Kingdom. Our sense of the ability of small churches to serve is often disempowering. This witness was inspiring.

I am sharing this because it is easy to become isolated from the larger experience of the Spirit of God at work in the world. We have brothers and sisters all over this planet, but because of distance, we remain largely unaware even of their existence. The greater world of God’s people is a gift. Our connections with all of God’s people are a gift. We should certainly build up each other in the grace we share. Receive this gift.

Rev. Dr. Peter Smith is the pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at