On our last day in the Philippines, I had the privilege of watching one of the girls that went through aftercare at the Round Home enter into this precious covenant. What a beautiful portrait of redemption. It struck me how it brought back memories of my own wedding day. It was just such a great reminder of how similar we all are. Etched in all of us is the desire to love and be loved. There were cultural differences but the spirit was the same. It was a day of joy, love and celebration.
The bride's face radiated with joy. Her groom looked at her with love and longing. Her friends sang along to love songs like any group of girlfriends. One expressed to me her desire to someday get married as well. It was just incredible to me. I can't imagine being able to trust someone after all these girls have been through. I wasn't prepared for the amount of joy I saw in them. I learned some of their stories and how desperate they were when they arrived at the Round Home. They entered this place with no hope.
Love changed all that.
These girls were changed from the inside out through holistic care. Above all else, they know they are loved by God, and that love enables them. They are pursuing education and learning music and art. Their care goes so far beyond just meeting basic needs; these women are learning to thrive. They are healing in ways that I would not even think possible. They are shown what it means to love and to accept love.
On this day, this beautiful young bride, along with the other young women who survived such horrific circumstances, were not defined by their past, but were given a glimpse into a future brimming with new life and opportunity. Their lives have no element of fairytale; each have a story that goes much deeper than that. They have experienced the pit of hell and the richness of love. As their stories unfold, there's no doubt that pain will still be a part of their lives, as it is for all of us, but I hope this day will always symbolize the hope of restoration. Life-giving, sacrificial love is possible because they are loved perfectly by a God that rid himself of all his power and suffered to set us free. Because of this love, no story has to end in despair.