So tonight I started thinking about a little girl that stole my heart. Meet Maria, the cutest little girl who is currently a beggar at a local market in Managua, Nicaragua. I loved this little girl from the moment I met her, and still think about her all the time. Maria’s full time job is to walk the market looking for American tourists to make money or beg for shoes, food, or a few dollars to bring home to her family. At our first visit in 2009 on a youth missions trip we immediately ran into Maria, her brother David, and a few other beggar friends of theirs and quickly developed a deep affection for them. Each one of the kids we met had old flip-flops, dirty clothes, and the most appealing smile. Me and Maria immediately hit it off and she quickly became my buddy for the day as we walked around the market and talked about her life. At the end of the day we didn’t want to leave our new-found friends so we asked where her parents were. After walking through the entire market we arrived at what we later found out was the red light district of the market. This area was basically the loading docks in the back of the market where men would come to buy sex which is where we found Maria’s mother pregnant and still working at probably around 8 months pregnant. (picture to come later) It shook me that the little girl that I had befriended was probably the result of her mom’s sexual exploitations and the chances of Maria ever knowing a father were slim to none. After our translator and group leader talked with Maria’s mother we discovered that Maria’s mother would sell her body for approximately $7 for whatever sexual acts the client desired. This broke my heart, not only because my little friend would probably never know a real father, but that the likelihood of Maria getting involved in the sex trade due to her mother’s full-time prostitution habits would exponentially increase. When you are faced with moments that break you sometimes it’s hard to know what to do, or even what to pray. I remember feeling overwhelmed at the complexity and hopelessness of the situation before me. Over the next few days we had the chance to hang out with Maria a few other times. These were so special and unique for me as Maria and David had never even been to a McDonald’s or even a fast food restaurant. I remember going into the bathroom with David to help him wash his hands before eating and David (Maria’s brother) had never seen a hand-blow dryer before. He was thrilled that there was a device to dry his hands and wanted to just hang out in the bathroom playing with his new toy! On the trip we had the opportunity to celebrate Maria’s birthday with her and even take her mom to a Christian Ministry called “House of Hope” which would help house woman to teach them a trade and help them to live a life outside of the dark confines of prostitution. I still wonder if what God was doing in those interactions ever really set in their hearts or if Maria and her family even remember me today. When i was there I seriously wanted to adopt her to rescue her and David from the daily struggles that they face. Maria, we found had (I think) 8 brothers and sister’s that lived in a little shack the size of a small living room. It was the dirtiest, darkest, most depressing home I have ever been in, and everything in me struggled to leave her. Tonight was a night where she has been on my heart, maybe because our paths are supposed to cross at some point down the road, maybe just for me to continue to cry out to God on her behalf. What i realized is how many “Maria’s” there are all over this planet that have their own story and their own need for our help. These people inspire me to want to give my life for the powerless, poor, and brokenhearted. Who are we brokenhearted over? Who has the God of heaven laid on our hearts to care for, or to not rest until hope has won the day? Why are we so complacent and bland in our love for these people, how have our hearts grown so cold? I’m praying that at the end of the day we are the people who are changed by God’s love and inspired to do something about the burdens that God places in us.