Ministry often begins with a seed: a seed of hope. This is the story–prelude, if you will–of how Hellenic Ministries’ social education center called Petalouda began.
Sarah calls it a work horse. I think it is more like Cinderella’s horse and carriage. Regardless, a little blue car is whisking me away to a place where dreams come true.
Only the place I am going doesn’t look anything like Prince Charming’s castle.
Truth be told, it looks like a trash heap.
In a way, it is. An abandoned, some say haunted, school in the middle of a riotous Roma community is a dumping ground for refuse and a public toilet.
But Sarah doesn’t see it that way.
The rotting mattresses, the excrement, the spoiled food are merely obstacles hiding a treasure: A school. A playground. A place where children can skip rope and play basketball. A place filled with teachers and students who are learning, laughing, loving, and growing.
Sarah, like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, sees what is hidden beneath the surface. She sees a sanctuary for an entire community. She sees a future. She sees Hope.
How many of us see life this way?
That broken family member, the one whose life, like a tsunami, leaves devastation wherever she goes: Do we see a mess, or do we see the very image of our Lord in her face? Do we see a future? Do we see hope?
God calls us to see beyond the physical. He calls us to see through his eyes and from His vantage point. To see as God sees allows us to dream, to purse those dreams, to hope.
But seeing beyond the natural is not natural.
We must learn to see hope where hope has not previously lived. Remembering my past as well as my deepest hopes and dreams awakens me to the knowledge that people, places, and circumstances are often more than meets the eye.
Whether we look like a trash heap or not, we are all tragically broken. Fortunately, the all-knowing, perfect eyes of our Savior look down and call us worthy. His eyes offer redemption and a future. They offer hope. And unlike the fairy godmother’s magical creations, the transformation we receive in Christ doesn’t disappear when the clock ticks past midnight.
My friend, Sarah Wheway serves as a missionary with Hellenic Ministries. She leads HM’s Hope Ministries which includes the Hope Center and Petalouda (referred to as the Hope School when it was still a dream.)
This post originally appeared on January 27, 2016 on Amy’s website. Since then, Sarah’s dream has become a reality. Watch this short video and discover how God transformed the Sarah’s hope into a social education center for Athens’ Roma community called Petalouda.
Amy E Patton
*Where mentioned names have been changed to honor each person’s story. Photos have been blurred intentionally. Photos are the sole property of John and Amy Patton and cannot be saved or used for any purpose without our permission.